Tag: agents

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Shed a tear: Agents are hurting during lockout, too


David Stern has tried to paint NBA agents as a malevolent force during this lockout — maybe not Voldemort himself (that would be Jeffry Kessler) but more Dementors. Men who suck the joy out of the game.

But this lockout hurts the agents, too. They all hustle because they live on commission, you’ve got to get clients and keep them happy. They tend to take a long-term view of things (they’ll fight for larger salaries and more player movement because it will help them make more money) but in the short term they are working for free.

One of the biggest agents, Mark Bartelstein, spoke about it, via CSNChicago.com.

Since he and his fellow agents are paid by commission (usually 3 to 5 percent on team contracts according to ChicagoBusiness.com), Bartelstein is losing a lot of money from this lockout as well.

“I’m actually working harder than ever — 18-, 19-hour days,” he said in theChicagoBusiness.com article. “There’s so much you have to deal with on a daily basis. And to not be getting paid…it’s not fun.”

Bartelstein is clearly siding with players every step of the way, saying, “Just because something is painful, distasteful, doesn’t mean you say, ‘OK, fine, I’ll take this horrible deal.’ The owner’s strategy was based on the thought the players will cave when they start losing money. That’s what they were banking on.”

That’s true. Some owners (many maybe) really are waiting for the players to just cave in. The agents do not want that to happen because it’s not in the best interest of the agents. Nor their clients. The interests of agents and players are not completely concentric circles, but there is a lot of overlap.

But neither the players nor the agents can go without paychecks forever. And the owners know that.

Why agents hate the owners’ offer — they lose power

*Jul 24 - 00:05*
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Agents are leading the charge against the latest offer from the NBA owners — agents are at the heart of decertification efforts, they are telling their clients not to take this deal.

Agents are in one sense looking out for their clients’ interest, although everything is intertwined — the more money the players make, the more money they make. To be fair, most agents are concerned about the well being of their clients beyond just the financial, but the financial is the cornerstone.

However, this fight is not about money as much as power. In the wake of what LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony did last season, the owners felt like they were losing power. They are using this Collective Bargaining Agreement to get it back.

The agents had some of that power, and they will not give it up quietly. Look what agent Mark Termini told the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via SLAM).

“The agents represent a threat to the control of the owner and the team,” said Termini, who has represented many of the top players from Ohio, including Jim Jackson, Brad Sellers, Earl Boykins and Kosta Koufos. “They want to just deal with the player. They’re going to tell him what to do, where to go, when he’s hurt, when he’s not hurt, what doctor to go to, what’s a good deal, what’s a bad deal, when he’s traded, what time to report.

“The agent gets involved in all of those decisions on behalf of the player and it’s burdensome to the team. They don’t like it. They’d like to eliminate that. So in these negotiations, as the options for the players become fewer and fewer, it has the hand-in-glove effect of reducing the role of the agent.”

Clearly that’s an agent’s spin, but the sentiment is correct. The owners and league would love to diminish the role of agents and this deal helps do that by reducing the trade options an agent could pursue for a client.

Just remember that this CBA negotiation is pretty much like everything that happens in Washington D.C. — it’s about money and power. It gets spun as being good for the people (or the fans), but it’s always about money and power.

Winderman: Why agents are pushing overseas options

NBA London 2011 -  New Jersey Nets v Toronto Raptors
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The flights are mostly one way, west to east. Everyone seemingly is going to Europe or beyond, amid the lockout.

We appreciate the incentive for the players, the opportunity to stay sharp, find competition, earn a few pennies on their typical NBA dollars.

But they are not alone in this process.

It also is one driven by agents, who also need to continue the cash flow.

So how does it work for them?

He’s how, according to a couple of agents well-versed in the process:

Foremost, unlike NBA deals, where the agent cut is limited to four percent, agents typically claim 10 percent on overseas deals. At times, that percentage is split with an overseas agent.

“The agent fee is 10 percent, paid by the team, not paid by the player,” one agent said, requesting anonymity due to ongoing contentiousness in the process. “So if a player goes over and now he’s getting $100,000, there’s an agent fee of $10,000 that the team pays. Now, sometimes, that gets broken up, there’s a broker overseas, without even getting back into kickbacks.”

The agent, though, did get into kickbacks, noting it is not out of the question for an agent to request a 15-percent fee, so he still winds up with the 10 percent after paying off his overseas associate.

Another agent, who deals with mostly secondary-level talent, said the contracts signed by the players are for the full amount offered, unlike in the NBA, where agent and other fees are then removed.

“If it’s a $200,000 contract, he’s netting $200,000 in cash,” he said. “The team is paying the tax on that. So he’s getting $200,000 in cash. The agent is getting $20,000.”

Of course, that’s if the players or the agent get anything, based on some of the sketchy payment practices overseas.

“Stupid people like me wait and sometimes the player doesn’t get his money and therefore I don’t get my money,” said the agent who represents secondary-talent players. “So it can happen.”

Because of that, there has been a push among agents to receive payment up front for those headed overseas amid the lockout.

“Well, let’s use a practical example, Deron Williams,” the agent who represents high-end talent said. “OK, so he’s making, let’s probably say $500,000 U.S. a month. You’re getting at least three months out of him if the lockout continues, that $1.5 million. So you might ask for $150,000 up front, sure.”

Both agents said they would be reluctant sending players assured of significant future NBA earnings overseas, even if it meant lost fees.

“Obviously,” the high-end agent said, “I’m going to have issues if I don’t make any money here. But the fact is here I’ve got a fiduciary obligation, I can’t advise somebody the wrong way.”

Said the agent who represents second-tier talent, “The thing that’s just fascinating to me is the first guy that’s injured, whoever goes, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.”

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.