Jason Kidd became the Nets coach a couple summers ago after Jeff Schwartz – someone Nets general manager Billy King described as Kidd’s agent – contacted Brooklyn.
Kidd left for the Bucks last summer after Schwartz contacted Milwaukee on Kidd’s behalf.
Schwartz, founder of Excel Sports Management, also represents numerous players including Blake Griffin, Kevin Love and Deron Williams.
Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports – which counts LeBron James among his player clients – signed former Warriors coach Mark Jackson.
Where is all this going?
Under review is a rule in the National Basketball Players Association’s Regulations Governing Player Agents, which has long forbidden certified player agents from representing coaches, general managers or “any other management representative who participates in the team’s deliberations or decisions concerning what compensation is to be offered individual players.” The rule has been on the books for decades to guard against the obvious conflicts of interest that would arise if an agent were operating on both sides of a player-management negotiation. The NBPA is the only one of the four major pro sports unions in North America that expressly outlaws the practice.
But under former union chief Billy Hunter’s regime, and even before, the rule was rarely enforced, creating an environment in which agents have wielded unchecked power within certain organizations while allowing themselves to be placed in the ethical quagmire of representing players and their negotiating adversaries simultaneously.
“We can’t allow the status quo to remain, i.e. people to act in defiance of the rule because the rule is the rule,” Michele Roberts, executive director of the NBPA, told CBSSports.com Wednesday. “But I also want to try to do it in a way that makes sense for everyone. If it appears that the rule is not something that we can work around, then it’s time to enforce it.”
Berger lays out a fantastically nuanced look at the issue, which will not be simple to solve.
The potential for conflict of interest is immense, but don’t agents who represent multiple players already face similar issues when two of their clients are up for a job? Does the rule preventing agents – not necessarily agencies – from representing both coaches and players create enough separation? What about those who jump from playing to coaching? Must they immediately change agents if they trust their current one and don’t yet know coaching agents? How is the line between friendly and advising and representation defined?
As with most matters like this, I think the enforcement should match the rule on the books. If the union believes this rule is necessary, hold the agents who violate it accountable. If it’s better to allow agents to represent both players and coaches and monitor those situations on a case-by-case basis, repeal the rule.