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Are NBA Players Firing Agents too Quickly?

On Sunday, Bob Finnan of The News-Herald wrote,

There has been a flurry of agents who have been dropped by major clients in the last few weeks.

If players don’t get the kind of contract they think they deserve, they fire their agent. That’s the new trend in the NBA. Players are changing agents like they change socks.

The agents, at times, become scapegoats for their clients’ shortcomings. It’s a tough market out there right now. Teams aren’t throwing money around like they once did, especially with a possible lockout on the horizon.

The list of agents who have been fired recently is staggering: Chris Paul fired Lance Young from Octagon; Dwight Howard, Al Horford and Rodney Stuckey fired Aaron Goodwin; Ike Diogu fired Arn Tellem; Roger Mason fired Mark Bartelstein; O.J. Mayo fired LRMR; Andray Blatche fired Eric Fleisher; Lou Amundson fired Mike Higgins; and Marc Gasol parted ways with Herb Rudoy.

Sometimes players think agents can wave a magic wand and get things done. It’s not that easy. Teams have salary cap and luxury tax issues that the players don’t seem to comprehend.

Other times, a player’s entourage gets in his ear and fills his head with nonsense. “You should be getting $10 million a season,” they’ll say.

Next thing you know, that player has a new agent.

It is not just in basketball.  Players change agents with regularity in football and baseball, and baseball does not have the salary cap issues that Finnan cites as something basketball players do not seem to comprehend.  And it is not only the small agents who are being fired for those with impressive client rosters.  Arn Tellem, Mark Bartelstein, and Aaron Goodwin are amongst the biggest names in the industry, yet each has been fired by at least one client this year.  It seems as though Goodwin has had the most difficult year of the crew.

Sometimes agents are fired because they have acted in a way that has hurt their clients.  Other times there is absolutely no grounds for the change of representation.  An agent might even give all of his time and energy to servicing a client, earning that client publicity and off-field/court contracts that no other agent would have been able to provide the client, yet the client still decides to make a change.  It often appears that this type of behavior occurs more in the agent profession than in any other profession.

This article originally appeared on the Sports Agent Blog.


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