As the Los Angeles Lakers try to acquire a Klutch Sports client for a third consecutive offseason, there have been rumblings about the excess influence that agent Rich Paul wields over this team.
It is widely accepted that Los Angeles signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the summer of 2017 — to a large contract — in part to start a relationship with Paul and the agency in order to get jump-start on recruiting LeBron James. It worked, as James signed a four-year deal with the Lakers the following summer.
With two clients on the Lakers, and one of them being the best player in basketball, Paul was naturally around the team more this year, but that came with some grumbling. For what it’s worth, in that same story, Paul denied having undue influence.
He’s not the only one to say so. Lakers guard and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Rajon Rondo, who is not represented by Klutch, believes that the noise surrounding Paul’s presence was overstated, as he told Bleacher Report in a sit down with Ric Bucher:
A recent ESPN.com article detailing the turbulence within the team pinned some of it on James’ agent, Paul. That wasn’t apparent to Rondo.
”He wasn’t around that much,” Rondo says. “I’m not a fool, but he doesn’t have a dominant personality; he’s not, ‘Look at me.’ He’s super chill. We’ve had a lot of conversations. I didn’t see him as a threat or controlling anything at all.”
Although it’s good to hear that Paul’s influence wasn’t overwhelming (considering that he will still be around James next season) Rondo probably won’t still be with the team. Also, Rondo wasn’t one of the players actively mentioned in trade talks, so it’s understandable that he wouldn’t be bothered by being around Davis’s agent. Furthermore, it’s hard to know what “he wasn’t around that much” means when Paul admitted that he flew with the Lakers on their team charter.
Even if Rondo wasn’t affected, it’s not a stretch to say that other members of the organization, like Luke Walton, acutely felt Paul’s presence. James’ camp was not so subtle in their distaste for Walton, and Paul went so far as to complain directly to commissioner Adam Silver. The Lakers have to hope that Frank Vogel is comfortable with having Paul around, and it seems as though Paul is trying to start that relationship on the right foot by refusing to try and influence assistant coaching candidates for the team.
It’s inevitable in the NBA that certain players hold more authority than others, and by extension, certain agents will also have a stronger influence. In trying to do right by his clients, Paul likely ruffled a few feathers within the Lakers last year. However, according to Rondo at least, it seems that Paul knows where to draw the line.
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