The Knicks got Nerlens Noel on a ridiculously cheap $5 million deal last season, and the big man turned into one of the league’s best bargains. But why did Noel come so cheap? Most hardcore NBA fans know the story of how Noel turned down a four-year, $70 million deal from the Mavericks a few years ago. But there might be more to the story.
According to Darren Heitner, Noel is suing former agent Rich Paul and Klutch Sports Group, Paul’s sports agency, claiming that Paul misled and neglected Noel, causing him to lose $58 million in salary.
The lawsuit alleges that Paul lured Noel away from his agent at the time, Happy Walters, by convincing Noel that he could get a max contract if he signed on with Klutch. Noel fired Walters, rejected the Mavs’ $70 million offer, and signed the qualifying offer. Then, after Noel tore a ligament in his thumb, causing him to miss 42 games, Paul lost interest in his new client.
“During the free agent season which began on July 1, 2018, and after Noel’s one-year contract with Dallas expired, neither Paul nor anyone at Klutch Sports presented any real proposals to Noel in terms of strategies or ideas on how Noel might secure a long-term contract or even a significant contract for the following season,” states the Complaint.
Noel signed a 2-year, $3.75 million league-minimum deal with the Thunder. Noel alleges that several teams inquired about him to Klutch, but they never informed him.
The allegations made by Noel are serious. Paul and Klutch are major players in the NBA these days. The Knicks are usually painted as a vassal state of CAA, but the reality is that most of their players are represented by various other agencies. Mitchell Robinson was repped by Klutch for awhile, but later fired the agency.
I suggest reading the article if you’re interested in the league’s inner workings. As for Noel, he signed a three-year deal with the Knicks this offseason, with a team option on the final year, guaranteeing he will remain in the orange and blue for at least the next two seasons.