NBA

The Problems Agents Have with Overseas Basketball Players

| by Sports Agent Blog

A battle may be brewing between Bernie Lee and Andre Buck. Andre Buck worked with CAA for a while before recently leaving the behemoth to set up his own shingles.

In his first year doing things on his own, he was able to wrap up Hassan Whiteside, a big early entry center who was a sure-fire lottery pick during the season, but has dropped on a lot of draft boards mostly due to “character issues” since the culmination of his freshman college season.

Bernie Lee, who kindly offered to be interviewed on this site in the past, focuses more on the overseas game.  He has had success with his small boutique agency over the years and continues to place high caliber players with organizations overseas.

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So why the problem between Bernie and Buck? It centers around a player named Doron Perkins.  Perkins is a point guard who was born in Alaska and played his college ball at Santa Clara, where he was named First Team in the WCC for 2 years.  Since then, he has played in Japan, Germany, Belgium, and Israel. Most impressive about his resume is that he has been named MVP in Japan, Belgium, and Israel.

Anyway, Perkins has made a switch from Lee to Buck. I asked Buck to comment on the situation, and all he said was that Perkins switched from Lee to him, case closed. Lee offered much more, and as always, I am thankful for his willingness divulge information for this site (seriously, check out his Interview with the Agent piece).

Interestingly, Lee first points the finger at Israeli agents that he worked with to place Perkins in the Israeli market.

It is with great disappointment that I have to announce that Doron Perkins has chosen to seek new representation at that complete and total misguidance of Israeli agents Gross Zeev and Solly Laniado.    Gross is the 1st israeli agent who assisted me with Doron’s 1st deal in Israel with Haifa, but over time I came to see that Gross, while at that time seeming to be a very good person, was just not a good agent.  For whatever reason Gross is an agent that Maccabi Tel Aviv, If given a choice, a.k.a. not for Anthony Parker, will choose not to work with.  I am an North American agent with players everywhere, so I cannot take the time to learn the personal back and forth’s of every person in 20 different countries, so simply I didn’t know at the time last year, that there were any issues.

At the end of the season last year when Doron was named the MVP of the Israeli league, obviously our focus moved to being on Maccabi Tel Aviv.  Every American who comes to Israel aspires to play for them, Doron was no different.  I was directly presented with a 3yr offer for Doron with Maccabi at the end of last year.  Under the contractual agreement I had with Gross, I had to inform him of this offer and allow him to become involved.  I had the offer, I had the contract.  When I involved Gross, 4wks passed and I heard nothing, then one day in June I am told that now Maccabi had no interest in Doron.  Obviously this shocked me because again I had an offer.  At this point I began to find out the history of Gross and Maccabi.  Gross obviously knowing I was unhappy orchestrated a meeting with David Blatt who is the coach of the Russian National team.

I have never worked with any of these overseas agents, but I think that now is a good time to interject and give my own 2 cents. While in many situations, it is almost impossible to work an overseas deal without the assistance of an agent in the country you are trying to place your client, it is so very important to do whatever you can to make sure that the agent is accountable, responsible, and is diligent. Fortunately, I have not had issues working with overseas agents at this point, but you need to make sure that they are earning their commissions and not just pulling your chains. Lee’s story gets worse.

I and Doron were told that Doron had been chosen by David to receive a Russian passport to allow him to play for Russia in international competitions and also to play in Europe as a non import.  This opens up doors for Doron that I cannot begin to explain, so obviously Gross went from being a completely inept person in my eyes to the best agent whom ever lived.  We went thru the entire paperwork process for Doron to travel to Russia, which was extensive and expensive.  In the meantime, I turned down numerous high level offers for Doron based on Gross’s word and advice.  On August 7th last year Doron was to fly from the US to Russia in the evening, his paper work having been made complete.  3 hours before Doron is to catch his flight I get a call from Gross telling me that the deal is off and Doron will now NOT receive his russian passport.  In the days to come, I came to find out that it was never a possibility and that the Russian team had submitted their roster in the begin of the summer, and Doron at no time could have been added.  It was never possible.  Why Gross went thru this elaborate lie I will never know.  Obviously, for me this was the last straw.  I informed Gross that his assistance was no longer needed and I nor Doron wanted to ever be contacted by him again.

It is at this point that the verbal and paperwork diarrhea trail from his lawyer Solly Lanaido began.  At this point it was August and I had no high level opportunities for Doron, and I simply had to worry about placing him at a level he deserved.  Thru blind luck, I was put in touch with the great Sharon Drucker who made the entire possibility of Doron coming to Maccabi happen.  I negotiated the best deal possible and somehow salvaged an opportunity for Doron to join Maccabi.  Unfortunately, the deal was for much less then I had it done for 3 months earlier, but it was the best we could do and had to make it work.  When Doron signed his deal, Gross told me that it was a horrible deal and Doron would never play in Maccabi and Maccabi had only signed Doron so Jerusalem wouldn’t.  I, believing in Doron a slight bit more, knew he was wrong and told him so and again asked him to leave us alone.  Obviously he didn’t.  A month after telling me what a horrible deal it was, Gross began demanding I pay him for his portion of Doron’s deal with Maccabi, which I did.  Doron went on to have the season that he had and now he has the opportunities that he has.  Gross and Solly brought an american agent, Andre Buck, who represents Anthony (PJ) Tucker to meet with Doron, and sold Doron on the dollar and a dream that Andre could help Doron better then me to get to the NBA, which is obviously Doron’s dream – it’s every players dream. I have no problem with Andre Buck, he’s actually one of the 1st agents I was intro’d to when I started out. Andre, while a very nice man, has never had a player go from Europe to the NBA as a free agent.  I currently represent the NBA record holder for high PPG for an undrafted player in Mike James. Gross and Andre together represent Anthony Tucker, who I know well.  P.J went from winning a championship with Holon in Israel to now playing for a middle of the road Israeli team 2 yrs later. There was a stop with a high paying Ukraine team that in year 1 went great, year 2 that very same team folded mid week one week this year.  They have done an outstanding job with P.J.  They deserve a lot of respect for it.

So maybe Lee doesn’t have a problem with Andre, but based on his statement, it seems as if he has a problem with the way he handles his players (at least PJ) in conjunction with Gross.

Last year I represented an American player who went from playing in Ukraine to being drafted in the NBA draft.  That’s fine, that is what it is. The issue as it relates to Doron is I had negotiated an extension for Doron with Maccabi that would have been a 2yr 2million dollar deal.  800k year 1, 1.2mil year 2.  His other option was 1.1mil USD from Sienna in Italy.  This was done before all of this madness started  happening.

The week of April 21 I was provided with paper work from Doron that he was terminating our agreement and moving on, so obviously I had to respect it.

We are going on to June 1st, and to my knowledge, Doron has not signed either opportunity that I had secured.  I am getting calls from coaches I know around Europe surprised that they are being offered Doron because they have smaller budgets and they are wondering what’s going on.  This is the plan they have for Doron. I guess so much for the NBA, so much for Maccabi.

At the end of the day, I am obviously extremely disappointed, but this is the business I am in – I can’t cry sour grapes.  When I met Doron, he was playing in Germany for 130k for a garbage team.  I took him from another american Agent (Ben Pensack, who I know is reading this with a huge smile), now he has been taken from me – it happens, it’s the biz I am in.  I have nothing but the most tremendous respect for Doron and for Maccabi Tel Aviv as a club.  Sharon Drucker molding Doron into a player I never thought he could be.  Doron did the work, Sharon provided the guidance.

I move forward with my head held high and looking forward greatly to the chance of running into Gross and Solly in person soon somewhere in the world where I can fully express to them what I really feel about this.  That will be an extremely personally gratifying day!

End of the day I feel empowered by the fact that I’ve built my company to be bigger then any one client.  Again, this is the business, all I can do is move on knowing I did a pretty damn good job.

There is a lot to take away from this post. It not only says your normal, “this is a really tough industry, lot’s of competition, ruthless actions, etc.”  This post describes it, in detail.  As Lee states correctly, he cannot cry sour grapes. He must move on and rely on his knowledge, experience, and relationships to continue to build his agency.

It really doesn’t sound like there is a lot of beef between Bernie and Buck. In fact, Buck seems like he was the beneficiary of an Israeli agent telling Doron to look elsewhere – to an agent that the Israeli had a strong relationship with. The less people you involve in your business affairs, the better, but that is a tough thing to do in the business of placing players overseas.