LeBron James’ Agent Rich Paul Has Reportedly Become 1 of the Lakers’ Many Scapegoats

At an early age, I learned the importance of taking accountability for my mistakes. The adults who run the Los Angeles Lakers? Yeah, they somehow missed this life lesson.

The Lakers had an atrocious 2021-22 campaign after constructing one of the league’s worst rosters last offseason. Despite winning an NBA championship just two years ago, LA traded away its depth for old veterans that fit poorly together.

So, who is at fault for the personnel mistakes? Several people, but the front office (you know, the individuals who make the final decisions) has blamed everyone but those in charge. And it looks like that has continued with LeBron James’ representation, Rich Paul and Klutch Sports Group, also known as one of the franchise’s many scapegoats.

Rich Paul and Klutch Sports have reportedly become another scapegoat for the Lakers

Agent Rich Paul and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
LeBron James (from right) talks to his agent Rich Paul during a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 13, 2019. | Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Trading for Russell Westbrook was the Lakers’ biggest mistake last year. He’s not the same player he once was, and he fits awkwardly with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the rest of LA’s roster. Russ is a ball-dominant player. James needs shooters around him to be successful.

Westbrook’s contract has also put the organization into a challenging position. He has a $47 million player option that he will likely pick up. Not many teams will want to take on that salary in a trade, so there’s a good chance the Lakers could be stuck with him next season.

There isn’t one person who deserves all the blame for the Westbrook trade, which sent championship pieces Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell to the Washington Wizards. James and Davis played a significant role in the decision. But the front office, led by general manager Rob Pelinka, signed off on it.

However, James’ agent Rich Paul and his agency, Klutch Sports Group, seem to be receiving the blame.

“James certainly has a strong influence on the Lakers’ decision-making,” Eric Pincus reported in Bleacher Report. “Multiple sources indicate the team’s front office is internally blaming pressure from Klutch Sports Group (representing both James and Davis) for Westbrook.”

No, the report didn’t name Paul specifically, but he is the agent for both James and Davis, and he founded Klutch Sports. Everything the business does likely runs through him.

And whether it’s Paul himself or the agency as a whole getting most of the blame from the Lakers, it’s just another way for the front office to dodge accountability.

It’s time for Rob Pelinka and the front office to take accountability

Do LeBron James and Klutch Sports have power within the Lakers’ organization? Absolutely.

But the front office makes the final decisions. Rob Pelinka and company have to do what’s best for the organization, so if they didn’t think Russell Westbrook was a good fit, they shouldn’t have traded for him. They can go above and beyond to make their superstar (LeBron) happy, but they don’t have to make every move he wants. If that’s really how the power structure works, the lost 2021-22 season is their fault for being weak.

Klutch isn’t the first scapegoat, either. Head coach Frank Vogel had no say in the roster, but LA fired him as soon as the season ended. He could only do so much with the players given to him, so it didn’t make much sense for him to be the first casualty.

It seems the Lakers will continue passing the blame to everyone but the people who deserve it until the team is good again, or until Pelinka and his fellow executives are the only ones left standing. Whichever scenario comes first.

LA has a lot of work to do before the 2022-23 season. Perhaps those in charge should take accountability for their mistakes before then.

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