Rich Paul is arguably the hardest working agent in sports. Not only does he represent some of basketball’s biggest stars in LeBron James, John Wall, Ben Simmons, and Anthony Davis; he is also the co-founder of Klutch Sports Group.
However, Paul’s heralded clientele is not why he is making waves in the game. It’s the disruptive business moves that allow him to maximize deals that best fit his clients, and the organizations his clients are dealing with.
Need proof? His latest move with high school prospect Darius Bazley, ESPN’s 13th ranked player in 2018, has set the basketball world on fire.
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Back in March, Bazley de-committed from the Syracuse University basketball program. The Ohio-native opted out of the NCAA route to secure his bag early and go test the waters in the NBA’s G-League — or at least that’s what he initially thought.
The move would have made Bazley the first 5-star prospect in to enter the G-League but behind the scenes, Rich Paul had other plans for the 6-foot-8 forward.
Of course, with the G-League now offering contracts up to $125,000 to come hoop, this would’ve probably been the safest bet for Bazley and most top prospects looking to get paid straight out of high school.
But in an era where these kids are smarter and more well-informed than ever, Paul made the move of the year with Bazley and his family.
On October 25th, numerous reports surfaced on the announcing Bazley signed a very lucrative deal with the shoe company New Balance. Who was the maestro behind the groundbreaking deal? Of course, it was Rich Paul. Paul appeared on ESPN’s The Jump to further discuss the move. He said,
“The main thing for me was trying to find out the best way for Darius to spend his time since he was not going to college, and New Balance is a very fearless independent brand. And what they represent, aligned with who Darius Bazley is and what he wanted to do.”
What we also learned from Rich Paul’s appearance is that New Balance is ready to thrust themselves back into the basketball world.
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Seeing the opportunity, Paul was able to come to the table with even more leverage while creating the deal. Bazley will be raking an in a smooth M. He continued,
“They are paying him a million dollars no matter what, which is great. Darius aligned with who they [New Balance] are as a company and they wanted to be able to tell his story and to tell it the right way.”
Bazley will be an intern at New Balance for three months starting in January of 2019. He will have the opportunity to learn the business surrounding the NBA with New Balance and tell his story with a brand that believes in him.
In the world of athlete-driven media, Bazley will be learning how to make himself more marketable. Rich Paul explained on ESPN,
“He’ll learn what goes into making a shoe, what goes into building a storyboard, why they picked a certain athlete that they pick… Roll out plan, how to execute it.. All those things, which for who he is, regardless of what happens in his life he has a head start. He’ll know more about the business around the game than anybody in his class.”
Knowledge is power. For the 18-year-old hooper, Bazley is equipped with Paul and New Balance to build his empire early. Of course, Paul reiterates that this move isn’t for everyone. But in the case of his client Darius Bazley, this is the path that he’s ready for.
Until the time for the NBA Draft next year, Darius will be learning from some of the best, while still focusing on his game and getting runs in on the regular.
Understanding how a business runs inside and out makes for a foundation that is virtually indestructible. Could we see more athlete’s following this trend?