As contract negotiations remain relatively quiet on the Nerlens Noel front, news has filtered in that the 23-year old big man is shuffling the deck — reorganizing his representation off the court.
After failing to secure a lucrative restricted contract offer of his liking, Noel has decided to part ways with his now “former” agent Happy Walters.
This shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise. Athletes switch agents all the time. Heck, Andrew Wiggins, according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski, has split from his agent Bill Duffy even after securing a $148 million dollar max offer.
Anyhow, news broke Monday afternoon that Noel will be taking his talents to Klutch Sports and will be represented by one of the games most recognizable agents, Rich Paul. This was first reported by Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.
The pairing makes total sense. Rich Paul gets his clients paid. With Noel reportedly seeking a substantial contract offer near or at maximum dollars — Rich Paul will serve as the workhorse within the negotiating room. The hope has to be on the Noel front is that Paul will be able to do what Walter couldn’t, obtain a contract worth Noel’s while.
Paul is one of the NBA’s toughest negotiators out there. I’d be surprised if he made the Mavericks life easy. He’s held players out (Tristan Thompson & J.R Smith) up until he and his client get what they want. Much to Paul’s credit, his track record is consistent, whenever he is brokering deals with teams, those deals always tend to be above the projected market. If you don’t want to pay Rich Paul’s client, then Rich Paul will make your life tough. What Rich Paul & his clients want, Rich Paul and his clientele usually get.
According to the Agency database over at DraftExpress, Paul has garnered over $231,918,443 million dollars in total guaranteed salaries between his 15 clients. It helps to have clients like LeBron James & John Wall on your team, two players that will command the max no matter what. But Paul has done a superb job at getting every last penny from teams on deals involving Eric Bledsoe, Tristan Thompson, and J.R. Smith. He even managed to get $10.6 Million out of Memphis to pay Ben McLemore.
Yes, he may have miscalculated the Kenatvious Caldwell-Pope situation this summer, but with Nerlens Noel now in the fold, you better think he’s going to try to make up for that miscalculation. It’s pretty simple, whoever Paul represents — one thing is for certain, players get paid and paid well.
That’s what brings us to Dallas. On the surface, this doesn’t bode too well for the Mavericks, who through their actions this summer, look to be extra cautious with each and every dollar spent. Having salary cap flexibility is at a premium in this ever changing league right now. Very few teams could have the cap space the Mavericks project to have next summer.
So what are their options with Noel?
It’s evident that the center position is in flux. The NBA is becoming a position-less game. LeBron and Kevin Durant played heavy minutes at the 5 in this year’s finals. Those are two players that can do everything out on the floor. As the game continues to evolve to a smaller and smaller sport it appears that in order to have high success you need playmakers and shooters at every position. Do the Mavericks really want to fork over $23+ million dollars annually to a player that hasn’t been able to consistently stay healthy and to a player that also could potentially be an offensive liability due to a lack of jump shot?
The Mavericks found that perfect roster construction formula back in 2011 when they won the championship. Can a roster like that win in today’s game?
It’s known around the team that they feel Nerlens can be their younger Tyson Chandler, a defensive force that protects the rim & helps to space on the offensive side of the ball as the rim-running pick-and-roll dive man. Is that player worth premium dollar? That’s Donnie Nelson & his front office’s job to find out.
We now sit 54 days within the free agency period. As much as the Noel process has battled the patience of the fans, inserting Paul into the negotiations will certainly test the Mavericks owner Mark Cuban & his front office. Will Mark Cuban have to reach back and dig out a few extra million dollars to ensure the Mavericks secure their center of the future? That question became a lot more likely now that Rich Paul & Klutch Sports has entered the negotiating room.
So for now, Noel’s contract negotiations look to be at a standstill but don’t be surprised by the start of the season, he’s either in street clothes or one of the highest paid centers in the league — all thanks to Rich Paul.
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