SBJ/December 3-9, 2012/Labor and Agents

Paul’s Klutch will look to hire in early 2013

Klutch Sports Group, the new NBA player representation firm founded by LeBron James’ longtime friend and new NBA contract agent Rich Paul, will start making strategic hires, possibly including a marketing agent, early next year, Paul said last week.

Paul shocked many in the basketball world in September when he left CAA Sports, where he had worked under James’ longtime contract agent, Leon Rose, taking James and three NBA players with him.

LeBron James left CAA Sports with agent Rich Paul.
Photo by: NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
James and the three — Los Angeles Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe, San Antonio Spurs guard Cory Joseph and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson — are now clients of Paul, who was certified to represent NBA players in contract talks by the National Basketball Players Association a little more than a week after he left CAA.

Since then he has talked with lawyers, marketing experts and other NBPA-certified agents about how to build his new Cleveland-based firm, he said.

“I received a lot of calls from people once I made my move,” he said. “It was really overwhelming, the calls I did receive from some very, very brilliant people.”

Klutch does not represent James for marketing. LRMR, the firm founded by James and childhood friends Maverick Carter, Randy Mimms and Paul, represents James exclusively for marketing, in partnership with Fenway Sports Group.

LRMR is an acronym for the four childhood friends, LeBron, Rich, Maverick and Randy. Although he is the second R in LRMR, Paul gave up ownership in that company when he left to work for CAA under Rose’s wing in 2008.

But Klutch will represent Thompson, Bledsoe, Joseph and any future clients, Paul said.

“If a player signed with Klutch, the in-house marketing would do the marketing for that player,” Paul said.

Like LRMR, Klutch is an acronym, for Knowledge, Longevity, Understanding, Trust, Communication and Honesty, Paul said. Its website, www.klutchgroup.com, will go live early next year and Paul releasded a logo to SportsBusiness Journal last week. Klutch will move into a 3,200-square-foot office now under construction in downtown Cleveland in early 2013.

Paul declined to say what investors, if any, were funding Klutch.

Paul said he is being advised by prominent Cleveland attorney Fred Nance, regional managing partner of the law firm Squire Sanders, general counsel of the Cleveland Browns and James’ personal attorney since James was in high school. Paul said he intends to make some decisions on staffing in early 2013.

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