In the Klutch: Top Sports Agent and LeBron Homie Rich Paul Takes His Talents—and His NBA Clientele—to Hollywood in Major Deal With United Talent Agency

Klutch Sports Group head Rich Paul (center) is joined by (left to right) Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Ben Simmons and Miles Bridges during All-Star Weekend Feb. 19, 2019, in Charlotte, N.C.
Photo: Dominique Oliveto (Getty Images for Klutch Sports Group 2019 All Star Weekend)

Powerhouse sports agent Rich Paul is bringing the basketball world to Hollywood as part of a major deal between his Klutch Sports Group and United Talent Agency, one of the major agencies representing talent in Tinseltown.

On Wednesday, according to Deadline, the two firms announced that UTA had made a “significant investment” in Klutch Sports Group and that Klutch chief Paul had been named head of UTA Sports, a new sports-focused arm of UTA.

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As Deadline explains:

As part of the partnership, Klutch will continue to operate under its own brand and Paul will become Head of UTA Sports, focusing on building UTA’s sports business for athletes in all their professional endeavors, on and off the field.

The deal pairs two powerful talent agencies, but from two different worlds.

As the New York Times reports, the deal gives Paul—who reps some two dozen NBA talents, including LeBron James, a friend since childhood—the freedom to branch out into the world of blockbuster films, an area professional athletes are increasingly getting opportunities to join.

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For UTA, which represents such Hollywood talents as Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Angelina Jolie, Paul gives it a way to enter the sports-agent business, an industry where some of UTA’s main rivals, such as Creative Artists Agency and William Morris Endeavor, already have made inroads.

Neither Paul nor UTA reps would reveal how much of a stake UTA purchased in Klutch or for what amount, but Paul told the Times “‘nothing changes’ in terms of how Klutch’s basketball business operates and that the investment will enable him ‘to go out and further build Klutch.’”

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Said Jeremy Zimmer, UTA’s chief executive:

“We’ve been looking for the right sports opportunity for quite a while. 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.”

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As the Times notes:

In June, Paul became the first basketball agent to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated — with the magazine describing him as “the most discussed, admired, loathed, ridiculed, daring and feared” agent in the sport.

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It’s apparently that kind of daring that Paul intends to leverage.

“The modern athlete thinks differently, and I, as the modern agent, think differently,” Paul told the Times. “Guys want more. Guys want to build separate businesses. I tell our clients all the time that the most money you’re ever going to make in your life is probably going to be doing what you were born to do, but it’s OK to think outside the box.”

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