SBJ/May 19-25, 2014/Labor and Agents

Butler, formerly of Lagardère, takes position as president of basketball for Rival Sports Group

Mitchell Butler, an NBA agent who most recently worked for Lagardère Unlimited, has joined Rival Sports Group as president of basketball.

Butler has brought several basketball players to Rival and signed draft prospects including Clemson forward K.J. McDaniels. Butler quietly joined Rival late last year and has been working out of its Beverly Hills, Calif., headquarters. He reports to Rival Sports Group founder Richard Gebbia.

Butler
Additionally, NBA agents Dean Walle and Toby Bailey also both have joined Rival as vice presidents of basketball and report to Butler. Walle and Bailey started their own small basketball player representation firm, Sky Sports Management, two years ago, but left that firm after being hired by Rival.

Butler represents Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley and Chicago Bulls guard/forward Tony Snell, as well as about a dozen basketball players playing on professional teams in Europe and two players in the NBA-owned D-League. All of those players move to Rival. Additionally, Sky Sports Management represented a few European players, including former UCLA guard Lazeric Jones, and those players have joined Rival Sports Group.

For the NBA draft, in addition to McDaniels, Rival signed Stanford forward Josh Huestis, South Florida forward Victor Rudd, Pepperdine forward/center Brendan Lane and Penn guard Miles Jackson-Cartwright. Butler, Walle and Bailey will represent the players.

Butler said McDaniels is expected to be taken in the first round. Website DraftExpress.com had McDaniels at No. 19 in its mock draft last week.

“Josh and Victor could be high second-round guys,” Butler said. “All of our guys, we feel, if they are given a good, fair look, are NBA talent.”

Butler played guard at UCLA and then played eight seasons in the NBA, signing with Washington after going undrafted in 1993. He also played for Portland and Cleveland.

Dan Fegan, now president of basketball at Relativity Sports, was Butler’s agent for the last five years of his playing career. When Butler’s on-court career ended, he started working for Fegan, first at Dan Fegan & Associates before following Fegan to Blue Entertainment Sports Television and later to Lagardère Unlimited. Fegan left Lagardère Unlimited in September 2012.

Butler’s contract with Lagardère Unlimited was up in August 2013, and he spent a few months exploring opportunities before joining Rival.

“There were a number of opportunities in the marketplace, but I felt like here, I would get the opportunity to spread my wings and be successful,” Butler said. “It is a wonderful setup, and we are looking forward to making a big splash year in and year out in the draft.”

Butler is the Rival Sports Group’s first president of basketball. In the past, Rival has partnered with agents, including veteran NBA agent Tony Dutt, who is now part of Stealth SME, a firm that launched in March.

Gebbia did not return phone calls for comment.


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