Knicks center Nerlens Noel sues former agent Rich Paul, claims $58 million loss in potential salary


New York Knicks center Nerlens Noel filed a lawsuit against his former agent Rich Paul for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and negligence. The suit against Paul and his firm, Klutch Sports, claims that Noel lost $58 million in potential salary while Paul represented him from 2017 to 2020.

Noel is suing his former agent in response to a grievance clutch filed with the National Basketball Players Association, claiming that Noel owed $200,000 in commission from his one-year contract with the New York Knicks, according to ESPN.

While no exact amount of damages are specified, the lawsuit states that “Noel is entitled to recover actual monetary damages to be determined at trial, including but not limited to the amount of any actual loss suffered by Noel as a result of the actions of Paul.” Noel is also entitled to recover punitive damages.

New York Knicks center Nerlens Noel filed a lawsuit against his former agent Rich Paul, claiming Noel lost $58 million in potential salary while Paul represented him.

Noel’s lawsuit leads back to 2017, when he became a restricted free agent. He had played for the Dallas Mavericks in the season prior and averaged 8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1 steal and 1.1 blocks per game. At the time, he was represented by Happy Walters and Dallas offered Noel a four-year, $70 million contract.

Around the same time, Noel attended Ben Simmons birthday party, where he met Paul, who then represented Simmons. Paul pitched that he should become Noel’s agent, telling him that Noel should terminate his relationship with Walters and should also cease negotiations with Dallas in favor of a one-year qualifying offer.

Noel followed the advice of Paul, signing a single-year contract with the Mavericks for approximately $4.1 million. In December 2017, Noel tore a ligament in his thumb and missed 42 games, leading to a drop in his stats. This was also when Paul lost interest in Noel as a client, according to the lawsuit.

In this 2016 file photo, Ben Simmons (center) sits courtside at a Cavs game next to agent Rich Paul (left).

Klutch Sports failed to present any real proposals to Noel at the end of the season, but he still caught the attention of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who recruited him and signed Noel to a two-year, $3.75 million, league minimum deal in 2018.

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Noel had a relatively successful season with the Thunder but, on the advice of Paul, declined his player option for year two. He was met with few options after this and eventually signed with the Knicks in November 2020, a deal the lawsuit claims “Paul played virtually no role in.”

The lawsuit goes on to claim that Paul and Klutch did not make Noel a priority while he was a free agent, that Paul was unresponsive to teams contacting him about Noel, and that Paul and Klutch were only focused on serving their “marquee” clients, like Simmons and Lebron James. It also states that Noel’s frustrations came to a tilt when he learned that “Paul had a history of mismanaging and ignoring other clients and costing them significant money.”

Noel signed a three-year deal with the Knicks earlier this month, guaranteeing him $27.7 million with an additional $4.1 million in possible incentives. Noel’s new deal was negotiated by George Langberg of the GSL Sports Agency, who Noel hired in December 2020.

Contact Alyssa Hertel at ahertel@usatoday.com or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Knicks’ Nerlens Noel sues former agent over potential $58 million loss

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