Gaines, a 27-year-old attorney who was certified by the National Basketball Players Association last year, has his own firm, Slash Sports, but will represent Ball out of the family’s company, Ball Sports Group.
Gaines formerly worked as an intern for NFL and NBA representation firm Impact Sports and for player marketing firm Encore Sports & Entertainment, before starting his career as an NBA agent. His only other client is Jamaal Franklin, a point guard picked in the second round of the 2013 draft who has been playing in the Chinese Basketball Association, where he has become a star and a leading scorer.
Gaines himself played guard for the University of Pennsylvania before going to law school in San Diego. The Ball family is based in Chino Hills, Calif., and Gaines grew up in Victorville, 50 miles northeast.
|Lonzo Ball will be repped by agent Harrison Gaines, who is close to the player’s family.
Ball said that Gaines knows his sons — Lonzo and his younger brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo — through basketball circles. “He’s close to my family; he’s close to my boys,” Ball said. “I remember him in high school playing basketball.”
LaVar Ball formed the Ball Sports Group and plans to launch the Big Baller Brand, with a triple B as the logo, to sell shoes and apparel with his sons as endorsers. Ball has been in the press quite a bit and has been criticized for overconfidence in statements about his sons, but he doesn’t care.
For example, he repeated his claim to SportsBusiness Journal that he would allow his sons to sign an endorsement deal with Nike, but only if the brand gave the family $1 billion and put the triple B, instead of the Nike swoosh, on the shoes and apparel. “We are going to build this empire and everybody is going to be shocked, that we had this planned out like this,” Ball said.
Gaines will serve as the playing contract agent for Lonzo Ball, but LaVar Ball said he would serve as his son’s marketing representative. However, he said the Ball Sports Group, which is based in Los Angeles, has lawyers other than Gaines on staff, and was bringing on a well-known person as the brand director. Ball declined to reveal the names of the other people on the team.
“He is a director for the brand and all the areas we need to go,” Ball said. “He’s a big-time guy. … So we got some surprises in the making.”
(For more on Ball, see Part II of our college sports roundtable)
> 49ERS SUE ALDON SMITH: The San Francisco 49ers have filed a lawsuit in federal court to recover $341,630.18 the team paid to Aldon Smith, now an Oakland Raiders linebacker, back in 2011.
The sum represents a small portion of the $8.9 million signing bonus Smith received from the 49ers in his rookie contract in 2011. Smith is now under contract with the Raiders, although it is not clear whether he will play the 2017 season after being suspended for a year last year.
The 49ers drafted Smith with the No. 7 pick in 2011 and paid him a signing bonus of $8,961,092. The team cut him in 2015 when he was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence (Smith has been arrested five times between 2011 and 2015).
In 2014, while still with the 49ers, Smith served a nine-game suspension for violating the league’s substances abuse and personal conduct policies. The 49ers initiated a proceeding before NFL Special Master Stephen Burbank, who found that Smith should repay $1,186,027, which represented 9/17ths of the 2014 allocation of his $8.9 million signing bonus. Between August 2014 and March 2016, Smith repaid $844,396.82 of the award. The 49ers filed the lawsuit on Jan. 30 in San Francisco against Smith and the NFL Players Association to confirm Burbank’s arbitration award.
The 49ers declined to comment. The NFLPA did not respond to a request for comment. Attempts to reach Smith were unsuccessful.