This offseason, point guard Dennis Schröder gave his NBA peers a master class on how not to properly assess your free agent value. After turning down a four-year, $84 million extension from the Lakers while in search of a bigger payday, he was forced to grovel and beg for a measly $5.9 million salary from the Boston Celtics.
Life comes at you fast. Congrats!
Years before Schröder ruined his chances at generational wealth, there was Nerlens Noel—who once foolishly turned down a 4-year, $70 million pact from the Dallas Mavericks in 2017, only to come crawling back to Mark Cuban with his tail in between his legs for the low, low price of $4.1 million. The New York Knicks center has had a woefully underwhelming career since, but instead of settling for table scraps like Schröder, Noel is pinning the blame on his former agent Rich Paul and taking his grievances—all $58 million worth of them—to court.
New York Knicks center Nerlens Noel filed a lawsuit against former agent Rich Paul and his firm, Klutch Sports, on Monday, claiming he lost $58 million in potential salary while he was represented by Paul from 2017 to 2020.
Noel took the action after Klutch recently filed a grievance with the National Basketball Players Association, claiming Noel hadn’t paid $200,000 in commission on his previous one-year contract with the Knicks, multiple sources told ESPN.
Noel is accusing Paul of negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract; which in layman’s terms means: “Rich Paul fumbled the bag, and I would nothing more than to put hands on him.” Also of note is the fact that Noel’s lawsuit doesn’t cite a specific amount of damages and instead seeks “actual and punitive relief.”
And for those wondering if this lawsuit is related to that little $70 million snafu I mentioned earlier, well...
At the start of free agency in 2017, Noel was represented by agent Happy Walters. Noel claims in the lawsuit he was offered a four-year, $70 million deal by the Mavericks, a number that was reported by several news outlets that summer. During the free-agency process, Noel said he fired Walters and hired Paul after they met at Ben Simmons’ birthday party in Los Angeles.
Paul represents numerous NBA All-Stars, including Simmons and LeBron James.
In the lawsuit, Noel said Paul advised him to pass on the $70 million offer and accept a one-year deal so he could be an unrestricted free agent the following year when Paul said he could get Noel a more lucrative contract. Noel eventually did turn down the deal and signed his one-year qualifying offer of $4.1 million.
As fate would have it, Noel missed 42 games with a broken thumb the following season and has been collecting middling contracts—with Paul’s assistance, of course—like Pokémon cards ever since. Paul has declined to comment on the matter, but it will be interesting to see how this whole scenario plays out in court.