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Volume 21 No. 1
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Smaller rise in cap helps push down NBA free agent totals

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BA clubs spent $2.7 billion on 118 free-agent contracts this summer, about $2 billion less than they spent last year and a decrease of 42.6 percent.

Last summer, clubs spent $4.7 billion on free-agent contracts for 261 players, according to data provided to SportsBusiness Journal by the National Basketball Players Association.

Counting rookie contracts, NBA clubs spent a total of $3.2 billion on 148 player contracts this summer, a decrease of 37.3 percent from last summer. Clubs spent $5.1 billion for 290 rookie and veteran players last summer, according to NBPA numbers.



Eleven major agencies accounted for $2.3 billion in free-agent veteran contracts negotiated this summer.

The drop in total dollars spent on player contracts can be attributed to a smaller increase in the NBA salary cap than occurred in summer 2016, industry sources said. The salary cap spiked from $70 million in summer 2015 to $94.143 million in summer 2016, an increase of 34.5 percent. But it increased only to $99.093 million this summer, a 5.3 percent jump and about $3 million less than anticipated.

“Teams had less money available to spend because the cap was lower than the NBA originally projected,” said Christopher Reina, Real GM executive editor. “This was largely due to how aggressively teams spent during free agency in 2016.”

> VANGUARD STARTS IN MLB: Vanguard Sports Group has launched a baseball practice by hiring veteran MLB agent Keith Grunewald.

Grunewald, who has represented 24 first-round MLB picks during his nearly 20 years as an agent, will lead the practice out of Atlanta. Grunewald and CSE Talent parted ways earlier this year.

Trevor Kieboom, also formerly of CSE Talent, will join Grunewald at Vanguard in Atlanta.

Grunewald will head up the new baseball practice, but official titles had not been determined last week. Grunewald will report to Vanguard CEO Joby Branion, a veteran NFL agent who founded the agency in 2014.

Grunewald’s clients include Washington Nationals outfielder Ryan Raburn, New York Yankees pitcher Bryan Mitchell and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Steve Hathaway.

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NEW AGENCY FOR BOOZER: The Montag Group/IF Management
have signed free-agent NBA forward Carlos Boozer for representation off the court.

A Carlos Boozer TV appearance caught the eye of The Montag Group/IF Management.
ESPN IMAGES
The Montag Group/IF Management specializes in representing sports broadcasters, and senior vice president Gideon Cohen will be Boozer’s primary agent. Boozer previously was represented off the court by Wasserman and continues to be represented on the court by Landmark Sports Group.

Cohen said he saw Boozer on “The Herd With Colin Cowherd” on Fox Sports 1 last year and was impressed. “He was different,” Cohen said. “I thought he had a unique personality. I thought he seemed very thoughtful, insightful and just very comfortable. And there is a major market for NBA players who have that type of personality.”

Boozer played on the Duke team that won the NCAA championship in 2001 and was a two-time NBA All-Star during a career in which he played for the Cavaliers, Jazz, Bulls and Lakers. He played in China last season and had not been signed by a team last week, but has not officially retired from playing.

> WASSERMAN SIGNS COLLINS: Wasserman has signed Golden State Warriors assistant coach Jarron Collins for coaching work. Collins has been a Warriors assistant since 2014. Wasserman also represented Collins, a center who retired from the league in 2011, as a player.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.