Knicks’ Nerlens Noel Sues Agent Rich Paul, Claims He Cost Him $58 Million

LeBron James’ good friend and super-agent Rich Paul has become a major player in the world of the NBA. Besides James, Paul’s agency — Klutch Sports — represents many athletes across multiple sports. In the NBA, Klutch Sports represents stars like Anthony Davis, Trae Young, and Ben Simmons. 

But not all of Paul’s clients have been satisfied with the professional relationship. 

Nerlens Noel of the New York Knicks is suing Paul for $58 million in lost contract money. 

According to ESPN, Paul recently filed a grievance with the NBPA claiming Noel owes him $200,000 in commission from a previous contract with the Knicks.

In a lawsuit filed in Texas, Noel claims that his relationship with Paul began when the two met at a birthday party for Simmons — a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. At the time, Noel was a client of agent Happy Walters and was playing for the Dallas Mavericks. According to the lawsuit, Noel claims that Paul told him that he “was a 100 million man” and that he would get him a max contract. Noel says that he had been offered a 4-year $70 million contract by the Mavericks, an offer that Paul told him to turn down, recommending instead that Noel sign a one-year qualifying offer and attempt to get a max deal as a free agent after the season. 

On August 21, 2017, Noel signed with Paul, ending his contract with Walters. Noel then signed a one-year $4.1 million contract with the Mavericks. 

The decision inevitably ended up being a bad one, as Noel injured his thumb during the season and played in just 30 games for the Mavericks, averaged 4.5 points and 5.6 rebounds for the season.

Now an unrestricted free agent after the season, Noel says that Paul began to “lose interest in Noel as a client,” and claims Paul did not present him with any “real proposals” — either from Paul or from Klutch Sports — for a long-term deal.

Noel went on to sign a two-year, $3.75 million contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder that had a player option for the second year, significantly less than the max contract Paul had said he would secure for him. 

After a season in which Noel played 13.7 minutes a game averaging 5.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1.2 blocks per game, Noel declined his player option at Paul’s behest. The lawsuit claims that “rumors were circulating in NBA circles that Noel was set to sign a three-year deal with the Thunder,” and that the rumors were “circulated by either Paul, someone from Klutch Sports, or someone within the Oklahoma City organization.” 

Because of these rumors, Noel claims that he did not receive any offers from other teams, giving him no choice but to sign another one-year minimum deal with the Thunder. Noel claims that he later learned that the Philadelphia 76ers had been attempting to get ahold of Paul in order to discuss a possible contract with Noel, but Paul was “not returning or taking calls from other team representatives who were interested in signing Noel for their respective teams.” 

Paul had a solid 2019-2020 season in Oklahoma City and in January of 2020,  Noel reportedly considered ending his relationship with Paul because he felt that Paul and Klutch Sports were not working to get him a lucrative deal. He was informed by Klutch Sports that they were working on a three-year deal with the Thunder, causing Noel to continue his relationship with Paul and Klutch. 

During this time, Noel claims that the LA Clippers and Houston Rockets attempted to contact Paul regarding a potential contract offer, but Paul never returned the calls. 

Noel eventually signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Knicks without the help of Paul after Knicks President Leon Rose contacted Noel’s friend and advisor, Steven Dorn. Noel ended the relationship with Paul around December 19, 2020. Noel signed a three-year, $32 million contract with the Knicks this past offseason. 

The lawsuit claims that by turning down the Mavericks’ $70 million offer and signing contracts that made him $12 million, in turn, Paul lost Noel approximately $58 million. 

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to

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