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If you follow the NBA, it is important to know what happens behind the scenes. The truth of the matter is, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), is a major piece of the puzzle in regards to what happens within the NBA.
Creative Artists Agency has a huge advantage in signing elite athletes, especially elite NBA athletes. The agency represents famous and credentialed players such as: Yankees shortstop and captain, Derek Jeter, Colts QB, Peyton Manning, and Pittsburgh Penguins centre and captain, Sidney Crosby.
Despite only delving into the sports market in 2006, as USA Today columnist Thomas K. Arnold writes, the agency, “has built CAA Sports from concept to colossus.” There is no doubt that the agency, despite entering the sports agency business a short five years ago, represents an extremely impressive list of clientele. The interesting question is: how did the agency get this impressive list of clientele?
It has been reported by insider sources and journalists alike that the agency’s pull in signing elite NBA stars is because of LeBron James.
After aligning with CAA—are Chris Paul and Deron Williams destined to pull a LeBron James?
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo sports, reported in a June 11th article, that James is very valuable to Creative Artists Agency. In the article, an anonymous league executive is quoted as saying, “LeBron has almost become a movement within the league…With Worldwide Wes [CAA agent William Wesley] and him, you’re making a decision as a player to be packaged the way they packaged him. They follow him.”
Elaborating on this, Wojnarowski specifically says, “James has been a part of recruiting everyone else over to his side…” In reference to the article by Wojnarowski, the players that have been recruited by LeBron to unite with Creative Artists agency include stars like Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul.
Now, with the recent announcement that New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams fired his “longtime agent” and is considering joining Leon Rose of Creative Artists Agency, a question has been swirling: Will Williams switch teams?
The fact is, after Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony became clients of Creative Artists agency they switched teams. With the announcement of leaving his agent and possibly joining CAA, Williams will be asked the same questions as, free-agent-to-be, Chris Paul.
Chris Paul who, like Williams, is slated to become a free agent after the upcoming season, became a client of CAA a year ago. Interestingly, both Paul and Williams have been the subject of speculation in regards to switching teams when they become free agents; but would both of them switching to CAA before they’re slated to become free agents, be a coincidence or not?
The puzzle is all too similar to Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony. Chris Paul, who is playing for the small-market New Orleans Hornets, has already aligned himself with CAA and Deron Williams, who plays for the New Jersey Nets, appears to be ready to align himself with CAA.
Although Williams does not play for a small market, both Paul and him appear to be on a similar path as Bosh, Anthony and even James; all three players left smaller market teams in order to team up with superstars on bigger market teams. All three left their teams after joining Creative Artists Agency.
A great question was posed by a blogger for cbssports.com’s eye on the basketball blog. The blogger asks the following question, “James and company paved the way for star players to realize how to maximize their leverage. If you’re Williams, watching the Heat compete for a title in Year One, what is there to convince you that following in those footsteps isn’t a good idea?” A similarly pertinent question is: Are NBA superstars who are following in LeBron’s footsteps by signing with CAA, realizing that they need to sign with bigger markets in order to maximize their leverage or is this just a coincidence?
Will the Knicks front office decision be further indication of CAA’s influence?
Another tidbit of information, which might shed somelight on CAA’s influence within the NBA, is the Knicks situation. The decision the Knicks make about who to hire as their next general manager, might be a decision based on who they think gives them the best rapport with Creative Artists Agency.
Sports writers Stefan Bondy and Frank Isola addressed this subject in the New York Daily earlier this month. The article explained, how both, Mark Warkentien, who is currently a Knicks consultant and Isaiah Thomas, the ex-general manager of the Knicks, have a good relationship with CAA.
More specifically, Bondy and Isola state the following, “Warkentien is represented by Creative Artists Agency, the most influential representation in the NBA. Thomas also has a cozy relationship with CAA and its power broker, William Wesley, which he used to convince Dolan to get involved in the chases for LeBron James and Anthony.” Bondy and Isola elaborate that because of their good relationship with CAA, Thomas and Warkentien could be candidates to replace Donnie Walsh.
The fact is that if the Knicks re-hired Thomas it would be a public relations nightmare for the team. However, if the Knicks feel Thomas is the person best suited to form a rapport with CAA they could keep interim general manager Glen Grunwald as the GM. Grunwald has a close relationship with Thomas since their days together with the Pacers, Raptors, and most previously the Knicks front office.
As Frank Isola notes in a recent article, Grunwald’s relationship with Thomas’s could result in him being hired. Isola states, “Grunwald’s association with Thomas, who serves as an unofficial consultant to Dolan, doesn’t hurt either.”
Isola’s quote leads one to believe that Grunwald could be used as a pawn by Dolan to kill two birds with one stone. Grunwald could be hired by Dolan as the next general manager in order to prevent a public relations disaster. Or, at the same time he could be used to keep Thomas as a close adviser to the Knicks. Ultimately, he could be used as a link to CAA that forms a good rapport between the team and the agency before Paul and Williams are to become free agents.
Note: citations are courtesy of, Thomas K. Arnold of USA Today, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo sports, cbssports.com’s blog—eye on the basketball, and writers Stefan Bondy and Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.