Los Angeles Lakers show agents gaining influence in the NBA

(Photo by Dominique Oliveto/Getty Images for Klutch Sports Group 2019 All Star Weekend)
(Photo by Dominique Oliveto/Getty Images for Klutch Sports Group 2019 All Star Weekend) /

In case you haven’t noticed, NBA Agents are running the NBA. In the Los Angeles Lakers front office, it’s no different.

Perhaps you caught it, Los Angeles Lakers star player LeBron James celebrating Memorial Day in his backyard sitting around a round table with his “G’s”? James posted a story on Instagram over the weekend tagging everyone in the story.

Would his party be complete without his agent Rich Paul? Yeah, he was there along with Russell Westbrook (Bestie), Chris Paul (Bestie), Tristan Thompson (former Cavs teammate) and more. There was a private DJ along with cigars to smoke and a beautiful purple and yellow (or gold) flower arrangement on the table.

This is a new reality NBA fans. With the advent of social media and the power of the NBA stars themselves, the agents that execute from trades and signings and promotions and more are benefiting. The agents have become the smartest and most powerful piece of the NBA puzzle or workings.

ESPN published Senior Writer Baxter Holmes bombshell article Tuesday, May 28, about the reboot of the Lakers with Magic Johnson and former big-time agent Rob Pelinka.

Holmes spoke at length about how James’ and Kentavious Caldwell Pope’s agent Rich Paul was allowed to fly on the team charter with the Lakers coaches and team. That it used to be “unheard of,” but Holmes wrote that his presence was “destructive” knowing that Paul was instrumental in helping Johnson and Pelinka attempt to trade for another one of Paul’s clients in Anthony Davis.

By the way, Magic cleared that up on ESPN saying he allowed Paul to go on one return trip.

But it went farther than that. According to Holmes, in November, when the Lakers were doing really well with a winning record, Paul decided to tell NBA Commissioner Adam Silver that Luke Walton wasn’t the right coach for the Lakers (or LeBron?) and that Tyronn Lue was the right coach.

"In November, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Maverick Carter, LeBron’s longtime business partner, met for lunch. James’ agent, Rich Paul, was seated at a nearby table, and at one point, approached Silver to complain about Walton, multiple sources familiar with the interaction told ESPN. Paul said he didn’t believe Walton was the right coach for the Lakers. Silver shrugged off the remark and asked whom Paul thought would be the right coach. Paul suggested Tyronn Lue."

Paul’s other clients include NBA All-Stars and more including Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons, Tristan Thompson, and Draymond Green.

Rich Paul was able to do more with his biggest client’s team, the Lakers, in part because of Rob Pelinka’s post agent position as the Lakers GM.

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Pelinka, the former owner of Landmark Sports, was Kobe Bryant‘s agent as well as some major NBA players such as James Harden (now managed by his mother), Andre Iguodala, Chris Bosh, Buddy Hield and more.

Holmes wrote that Pelinka sat in team meetings with coach Walton and the team. He cited sources in the Walton coaching crew writing that the team was uncomfortable and pretty much understood Walton’s job was in jeopardy.

The team was “quiet” in these Pelinka-attended team meetings, so that means that the team wasn’t able to speak freely to properly plan and carry out the game strategy. Even other agents are throwing their peers under the bus.

According to Holmes one of Walton’s coaching staff told an agent who told him:

"“Coaches know Rich is trying to get them fired, and players know Rich is trying to get them traded.” – An agent with ties to the Lakers on Rich Paul."

How uncomfortable all that must have been. No coach could have been successful under these circumstances.

Holmes also wrote about how LeBron brought three of his Cleveland Cavs staff onto the Lakers staff and that it wasn’t surprising that LeBron and his agent had so much influence in the organization. Let’s not lose the fact that Pelinka complied as well. The Lakers were said to be behind the times, according to one of their staffers via Holmes. So this is a thing in the NBA.

Now let’s not let all that distract us from the probability that agents leak headlines to the media such as Adrian Wojnarowski (Woj), Brian Windhorst (a loyal LeBron supporter who made his name off of reporting on James), and Stephen A Smith, who can’t slam the Lakers enough in order to get free agents to be more intrigued by the Knicks than the Lakers (my opinion).

Smith prodded Magic Johnson by putting him down repeatedly for quitting, prompting Johnson to go on his show to dish trash. He dished on Pelinka, saying he was warned by agents about working with Rob and hinted that the hearsay from friends outside the organization was the final straw.

"‘You gotta watch out for him [Pelinka]” – Magic Johnson on what he heard as he became the Lakers President."

Magic Johnson teamed up again today with ESPN and Stephen A Smith to discuss the Lakers. Magic says this is his last time on the show until July and he doesn’t want to talk about this anymore.

He said he wanted to hire everyone he wanted to hire, he inherited Luke Walton and admitted he did things wrong but he’s a great guy and no one ever took him to HR or disrespected anyone.

Agents turning on other agents. What a game of politics the NBA has become! With Pelinka and James in the Lakers’ organization, don’t be surprised that agents and former agents and their relationships are ruling the roost.

Next. Three big problems that need fixing over the summer. dark

But that also means that the players have a bigger voice as well through their agents. It may be the same in other NBA teams front offices, it’s just that ESPN seems to be focusing on the Lakers. Whether planned or not, it is making it even more difficult for the Lakers to land star free agents. Let that sink in.