Rich Paul is the most powerful individual in the NBA, plain and simple.
By sending a simple message to Daryl Morey and the Philadelphia 76ers, Paul reminded everyone how deep his influence extends in the NBA.
Rich Paul is flexing his power at the Philadelphia 76ers
For those unaware, Paul is an American sports agent based out of Cleveland, Ohio. He founded “Klutch Sports Group” and represents many professional athletes, most notably LeBron James of the Los Angeles lakers.
Paul represents 76ers’ point guard Ben Simmons, who is currently amidst an ugly standoff over his NBA future. Simmons wanted to be traded months ago (preferably to a California-based team). However, the 76ers president of basketball operations, Daryl Morey, is playing the waiting game in an attempt to extract as much value out of his disgruntled star as humanly possible.
For a while, Morey and the Sixers appeared to be in the driving seat. They were demanding a lofty asking price for Simmons with hopes that Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal would become available at some point. If that were to occur, the 76ers would be in a prime position to land one of them with Simmons as the main piece to a hypothetical trade package.
Things were going swimmingly for Morey and Philadelphia. Then, Paul decided to get involved with nothing but his client’s best interests in mind.
Sixers point guard Tyrese Maxey could be on the move
The saving grace for most Sixers fans up to this point is that Tyrese Maxey — the team’s first-round pick last year — has the makings of an NBA starter. The Kentucky product flashed serious potential during his rookie season and is looking to take a huge second-year leap.
One problem — Maxey is represented by Paul and Klutch Sports.
The Sixers forced Paul to get involved by threatening to keep Simmons on the roster, and the Klutch Sports mastermind didn’t hold back with his first warning shot. By leaking that he wants Maxey to be traded, Paul put extreme pressure on Philadelphia.
Jason Dumas ultimately backtracked with his Maxey reporting, but the damage has already been done. If it wasn’t clear to Philadelphia and the rest of the NBA front offices — Paul runs the league.
Making an enemy out of Rich Paul is extremely foolish
While “bending the knee” to an agent isn’t something Morey has ever done before as a front office executive, Paul is no ordinary agent. He nearly represents every big star in the league. He also has deep connections with each NBA front office.
Making an enemy out of Paul puts the Sixers organization at risk of becoming a complete non-player moving forward. Klutch Sports clients aren’t going to sign there if Paul instructs them not to. Draft prospects who are looking to join Klutch Sports aren’t going to work out for the Sixers. The list goes on and on.
Angering Paul is a dangerous game to play, to say the least.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Lakers have done an incredible job accomodating Paul. This helped them win a championship in 2020 and become major players in free agency despite limited cap space.
As frustrating as Paul’s demands may be, the brutal reality is that his power and influence have no limits. In particular, the Sixers need to start meeting his demands on a more regular basis. Additionally, every other team in the NBA needs to note how messy things have gotten in Philly this summer.
Paul is not someone worth crossing — whether front office executives want to admit it or not.