When you hear the name Rich Paul, it’s easy to make the direct connection to LeBron James. Paul has known the Lakers star since 2002, and he has served as James’ agent since 2012 when he started Klutch Sports Group.
But over the past decade, Paul has established himself as much more than just the guy who negotiates James’ next max contract. The 39-year-old continues to add marquee clients and climb up the list of the most powerful agents in sports.
Oh, and he isn’t afraid to wield that power. While serving as Anthony Davis’ agent during the 2018-19 season, Paul publicly declared that Davis had no interest in re-signing with the Pelicans and wanted to compete for a championship. The midseason trade request created a huge mess in New Orleans, but Paul’s client ultimately got everything he wanted, winning a title with the Lakers in 2020.
That kind of bold approach has frustrated those in NBA circles, but it has undoubtedly made Paul popular among a certain segment of players. Here’s a closer look at his top clients and how much money they will earn next season.
Rich Paul’s top 10 clients by 2021-22 salary
(Full list available at HoopsHype.com)
Where does Rich Paul rank among top sports agents?
(Full list available at Forbes.com)
Why is Rich Paul a source of controversy?
During a recent appearance on “The Mike Missanelli Show,” TNT analyst Charles Barkley discussed the trade rumors surrounding 76ers star Ben Simmons, one of Paul’s clients, and likely spoke for a lot of people when he voiced his frustrations with how Klutch operates.
“You know how that group works. They try to trade their players to where they want to. … They do it the way they want to,” Barkely said. “Anthony Davis, they had better deals from Boston for Anthony Davis, and I think maybe even New York, and they’re like, ‘No, he’s gonna go to LA and play with LeBron. He’s not gonna play.’ They just bullied the league.
“And at some point, a team or the league got to stand up to [say], ‘Wait a minute, I paid your guy. You can’t bully me to trade him and [I’m] taking some trash back.’ So, I’m hoping somebody in the Sixers organization got some stones.”
Unlike previous situations involving James and Davis, Paul doesn’t have a ton of leverage on his side this time around. Simmons may not want to report to training camp, but the Sixers could tell him that he must show up in order to get paid. A holdout would be ugly, but Paul could push for that option if he is set on forcing Philadelphia to make a move.
If Paul figures out a way to get Simmons to his desired destination under these circumstances, it would be one of the more impressive feats of his career — and it would undoubtedly anger his most ardent critics.
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