D'Angelo Russell

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Powerful agent Rich Paul strikes deal to become head of United Talent Agency Sports

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Creative Artists Agency is a powerhouse entertainment agency with an impressive basketball division led by agents Aaron Mintz, Austin Brown, and Leon Rose. They can offer a long list of clients — Paul George, Chris Paul, Joel Embiid, Donovan Mitchell, Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell, and many more — branding opportunities through their entertainment industry ties.

Now Rich Paul — the agent for LeBron James, Anthony Davis 21 other NBA players — is getting in the same field after striking a deal with United Talent Agency, another big Hollywood powerhouse. Marc Stein of the New York Times broke the story.

The alliance calls for Klutch, with Paul as chief executive, to operate as United Talent’s sports division while retaining its own branding.

“We’ve been looking for the right sports opportunity for quite a while,” said Jeremy Zimmer, the talent agency’s chief executive. “We have taken a significant stake in Klutch, but Rich retains very substantial controls because we want it to be his business and we love what he’s doing.”…

The growing influence athletes have in music, fashion and content creation made adding a sports division an “urgent” priority to Zimmer.

“All these things have a connectivity and a power in the culture today like we’ve never seen before,” Zimmer said. “And so, for U.T.A. to be a fully built media company, we had to be directly connected to the athlete — not just through sponsorships and endorsements but directly to them in every aspect of their life in a real way.”

The days of Paul being dismissed as just LeBron’s friend are long gone. Paul has buried that idea.

Paul has a reputation as one of the more aggressive, harder negotiating agents in the NBA, for example how Anthony Davis forced his way out of New Orleans and ultimately landed with LeBron and the Lakers. That has vilified Paul with some fans, but for a player an agent that pushes hard to get his clients what they want and where they want is attractive. (That said, Paul did lose some clients this summer, including Marcus Morris.)

Now Paul has new ties and even more opportunities to offer clients — e-sports opportunities, book deals, opening doors to different kinds of businesses — and it makes him just that much stronger a player in the NBA game.

 

Warriors GM on D’Angelo Russell: ‘We didn’t sign him with the intention of just trading him’

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From the moment the Warriors acquired D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade deal that cleared the path for Kevin Durant to go to Brooklyn, speculation about fit and an eventual trade cropped up. Does Russell’s game really fit with Stephen Curry and, eventually, Klay Thompson‘s, in a three-guard lineup? If not, how fast will they trade him? February at the trade deadline? Next summer?

From the start the Warriors have shot down the idea that they just planned to trade Russell, and on Monday Warriors GM Bob Myers repeated the same thing.

The Warriors plan has been to play Russell and Curry next to each other — they got an All-Star guard to soak up the minutes until Thompson can return (likely sometime after the All-Star break, if at all next season). Maybe the fit works, maybe it doesn’t, but the Warriors aren’t putting limitations or preconceived notions on the possibilities.

If it doesn’t work out, the trade option will still be there.

The Warriors do not head into this season the same juggernaut to be feared, but sleep on them at your own risk. As Meyers said, they believe they have a team that can compete with anyone.

 

Kawhi Leonard, Paul George (Clippers), Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving (Nets) form pop-up super teams

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Five years ago…

The Clippers were embroiled in Donald Sterling’s scandal. There was talk of players boycotting. The whole franchise seemed toxic.

The Nets were entering years of pain. They’d traded several future first-round picks for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who promptly declined and left the team in the basement. Brooklyn looked hopeless.

Suddenly, the Clippers and Nets are the NBA’s freshest powers after major offseason coups. Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers and convinced Paul George to request a trade to accompany him. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving joined Brooklyn through free agency.

This level of star grouping in a single summer is unprecedented.

A team has added two reigning All-NBA players in the same offseason just three times:

  • 2019 Clippers: Kawhi Leonard and Paul George
  • 2019 Nets: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving
  • 2014 Cavaliers: LeBron James and Kevin Love

In 2014, LeBron returned home to Cleveland and pitched Love on joining him. The Cavs traded for Love with assurances he’d re-sign the following year.

The stories look similar in L.A. and Brooklyn this year.

Leonard wanted to return to his native Southern California, and he got George – another California native – to come along. Durant might resent the notion he was recruited, but playing near New Jersey is a homecoming for Irving. It seems Durant prioritized playing somewhere with Irving.

The big difference between this year’s situation and the Cavaliers in 2014: No incumbent star attracted Leonard, George, Durant and Irving to their new teams. Cleveland had Irving as a draw for LeBron and eventually Love.

The Clippers were starless. The Nets had no All-Star until D'Angelo Russell was named an injury replacement, and they weren’t keepinh him if landing Durant and Irving. (Russell got sent to the Warriors in a double sign-and-trade.)

That’s another way these situations are unprecedented.

Just eight teams have added multiple reigning All-Stars in the same offseason since the NBA-ABA merger. The preceding six already had an incumbent star who helped build the appeal:

Year Team Stars added Incumbent star
2019 LAC Kawhi Leonard, Paul George
2019 BRK Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving
2017 OKC Paul George, Carmelo Anthony Russell Westbrook
2017 BOS Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward Isaiah Thomas*
2014 CLE LeBron James, Kevin Love Kyrie Irving
2012 LAL Dwight Howard, Steve Nash Kobe Bryant
2010 MIA LeBron James, Chris Bosh Dwyane Wade
2007 BOS Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen Paul Pierce**

*The Celtics traded Thomas for Irving, but Thomas was integral in recruiting Hayward in the first place.

**Pierce wasn’t an All-Star in 2007 due to an early injury, but he was an All-Star the five preceding and five following seasons and played like one while healthy later in 2006-07. Not counting him as a star in 2007 would be true only as a technicality.

Yet, Leonard and George chose to be the stars on the Clippers. Durant and Irving chose to be the stars on the Nets. They didn’t follow anyone already in place.

This is an unintended consequence of the shorter contracts owners pushed for. They give players more opportunities to change teams and value new situations like this. This is also a continuation of LeBron exercising his power, first by joining Wade and Bosh on the Heat then by closing up shop in Miami and forming a new super team in small-market Cleveland.

Maybe it can’t happen anywhere. It’s no coincidence the Clippers and Nets play in the two largest markets.

But the Lakers and Knicks are still the most prestigious franchises in Los Angeles and New York. The Clippers an Nets didn’t even win a playoff series or get one star first to lure others.

It’s a new era in the NBA – one where top talent is ready to come together and assert itself.

Wherever that may be.

Report: Kevin Durant wouldn’t participate in sign-and-trade until Warriors sent Nets first-rounder

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Kevin Durant openly pondered whether the Warriors were taking advantage of him with his discounts, might have resented how they handled his injury and reportedly felt disrespected in Golden State.

Did Durant get his revenge, not just by leaving for the Nets, but by demanding Brooklyn get more return in a double sign-and-trade for D'Angelo Russell?

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

First, Durant initially balked at being traded for Russell straight up, multiple sources said. He didn’t think it was a fair deal, and in this case, the Warriors had to not just satisfy the Nets, but also Durant.

Leverage was applied by the player, and Golden State had to include a first-round pick before Durant would agree to sign off. The Warriors begrudgingly gave it up and did so with a heavy condition: If the pick falls within the top 20 next year, they don’t have to send it, and instead will only give Brooklyn a second-round pick … in six years.

This characterization seems unfair to Durant.

Was he pettily trying to stick it to Golden State? Perhaps. I can’t rule that out.

But I wouldn’t assume his motivations.

This could easily be spun into Durant helping his team, which at that point was the Nets. The only way Brooklyn getting an extra draft pick helps Durant is helping his team build a winner. At that point, he no owed the Warriors no favors in building their team.

The Warriors badly enough wanted Russell – the youngest All-Star ever to change teams through fee agency – that they agreed to the trade (and to send Andre Iguodala plus a first-round pick to the Grizzlies and to get hard-capped).

Acquiring Durant in a sign-and-trade rather than signing him directly was also an important aspect of the Nets’ offseason. They dealt $30,479,200 of salary* to acquire Durant and his $38,199,000 max salary.

Cap room goes only as far as its actual amount. Teams can acquire 125% of outgoing salary plus $100,000 in a trade.

That extra spending power was key to signing DeAndre Jordan.

*Russell’s $27,285,000 max salary plus $1,597,100 guaranteed to each Treveon Graham and Shabazz Napier.

There were other workarounds if a sign-and-trade didn’t go through. Durant could have taken a discount, as initially reported. He could have put unlikely incentives in his deal, as Kyrie Irving did.

But a sign-and-trade worked well for both Durant and Brooklyn.

Whether Durant was acting on his own or as a conduit for the Nets, the extra pick makes the arrangement even better for Brooklyn.

Report: Mavericks trying to trade Courtney Lee, second-rounder for Andre Iguodala

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As soon as the Grizzlies acquired him, it appeared Andre Iguodala wouldn’t be long for Memphis.

The Grizzlies’ primary impetus for the trade seemed to be a first-round pick from the Warriors, who were desperate to stay under the hard cap triggered by acquiring D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade. The Grizzlies are in the early stages of rebuilding around Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. Iguodala is a still-helpful player nearing the end of his career. Their timelines just don’t overlap.

Dallas is among the teams interested in Iguodala. What would the Mavericks offer? They’re reportedly interested in swapping the expiring contracts of Courtney Lee ($12,759,670 salary) and Iguodala ($17,185,185 salary).

Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com:

The Dallas Mavericks’ long-standing desire to shed themselves of Courtney Lee has manifested itself in a trade offer from the Mavs to Memphis that would send Lee and a second-round pick to the Grizzlies in exchange for veteran standout Andre Iguodala, sources tell DallasBasketball.com.

The Grizzlies’ so-far response, DBcom has been told, is that they are unwilling to take on the ballast of Lee’s $12.759 million salary in such a deal.

A Lee-for-Iguodala trade would work straight up salary-cap wise. (Future picks count as $0 for matching purposes in trades.)

This deal seems like a positive for both teams.

The Mavericks would get a productive player as they try to win now around Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Iguodala has excellent basketball intelligence, and he applies it as a defender and passer. Like most teams, Dallas could definitely use another versatile wing.

The Grizzlies would save money (the $4,425,515 difference between the players’ salaries plus any cash the Mavericks include) and get an extra pick. That wouldn’t be a bad double dip for Memphis, which would get a pick for each taking and sending out Iguodala. It’s hard to see him helping the Grizzlies, who probably won’t be competitive next season.

The big unknown: Could Memphis do even better by trading Iguodala elsewhere?

Of course, the Grizzlies might not view it this way. They could value Iguodala as a mentor or maybe even a contributor on a team they believe to be ahead of schedule. In that case, a second-rounder and a few million of savings might not be enough.

But if Memphis wants to flip Iguodala for an asset and send him somewhere he has a better chance of winning, this Dallas offer looks like at least a solid starting point.