New York Knicks center Nerlens Noel filed a lawsuit against his former agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group, alleging breach of fiduciary duty and negligence toward him as a client.
Noel claimed in the suit, filed Monday in Dallas and first reported by Sports Agent Blog, that Paul led him astray when he was a restricted free agent in 2017 and cost him $58 million in possible salary.
The crux of Noel’s grievance lies within how Paul became his agent in 2017. The former No. 6 overall draft pick met Paul at a birthday party for one of Paul’s clients, Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons.
Noel was considering a four-year, $70 million offer from the Dallas Mavericks, his team at the time, but Paul told him he could be a “$100 million man” if he fired agent Happy Walters and hired him instead, according to the suit.
Noel took Paul’s advice, fired Walters and signed only a one-year qualifying offer with the intention of seeking a bigger deal the next summer. However, after he tore a ligament in his left thumb and played just 30 games in the 2017-18 season, Noel claims Paul lost interest in him as a client. Noel went on to play for the Oklahoma City Thunder for two league-minimum contracts.
Noel also accused Paul of ignoring multiple NBA teams’ front offices that allegedly were reaching out to Klutch Sports to discuss signing the big man.
Paul represents the likes of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Trae Young, Draymond Green, Simmons and other elite NBA players. Noel terminated his relationship with Klutch in December.
In seven seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas, Oklahoma City and the New York Knicks, Noel has career averages of 7.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals in 425 career games (208 starts).
Noel started 41 games in his 62 appearances for New York last season, marking the highest number of starts for him since 2015-16. He averaged 5.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks for the Knicks.