Nerlens Noel had a lawsuit filed against his former agent, RIch Paul of Klutch Sports, dismissed on a technicality by a Dallas judge. The new Detroit Pistons center can still take his grievances to arbitration.
As part of the second trade with the New York Knicks, center Nerlens Noel was included along with guard Alec Burks and some draft picks, as the Knicks attempted to clear salary cap space to sign free agent guard Jalen Brunson.
Noel is entering the third-year of a $27 million contract he signed with the Knicks (Detroit will have a team option for 2023-24), which is not chump change. However, he felt he could be making a lot more, hence the lawsuit against Paul.
In all started following the 2016-17 NBA season. Noel had played the final 22 games for the Dallas Mavericks, following a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, who had make Noel the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Noel was projected to be the No. 1 pick until he tore his ACL. Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie liked drafting injured players with high ceilings.
Dallas liked what it saw and,offered Noel a four-year, $70 million deal. The, according to Noel’s lawsuit, Rich Paul advised him that he could get Noel a better deal, if he signed with him.
Noel did sign with Paul’s Klutch Sports, but did not get a better deal, far from it. Noel went back to Dallas eventually, but at a much lower rate. For the next five seasons, Noel never made more than $5 million a year.
He blamed Paul for not doing enough and, in mid-2021 filed a lawsuit.
Is situation similar to Detroit Pistons and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope?
Caldwell-Pope was a promising starting guard for the Pistons in 2017. He was a restricted free agent and was represented by Rich Paul. He was also expecting a big contract from the Pistons. Really Big.
Well, that did not happen.
Here is how Duncan Smith described it for PistonPowered at the time:
"Well, we can all say that almost nothing has gone according to plan for the Detroit Pistons when it comes to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in free agency. Once expected to command a salary up to the $24.75 million dollar max starting salary, things unraveled for the restricted free agent near the end of last week."
Detroit GM and coach Stan Van Gundy traded with Boston for guard Avery Bradley and filled Caldwell-Pope’s spot in the lineup.
Caldwell-Pope ended up signing with the Lakers (LeBron James coincidentally has a stake in Klutch) that season on a 1-year, $18 million deal. Caldwell-Pope (now with Denver) is currently playing on the final year of a three-year, $39 million deal he signed with the Lakers.
Not exactly what Caldwell-Pope was expecting back in 2017 moneywise, but he has not sued Paul. He has said signing the constant short term deals was his idea, so he can stay with the Lakers.
Caldwell-Pope just signed a two-year, $30 million contract extension with the Nuggets. Our sister site that covers Denver, Nugglove, has an excellent story on it.
Caldwell-Pope got a ring out of being with LeBron, but from a purely financial standpoint, he would have been better off taking Van Gundy’s offer.
What is next for Nerlens Noel?
The judge did not throw out the lawsuit on its merits, but merely ruled that Noel has to take his case to arbitration. The NBA Players Association has its own arbitration system and Noel can seek a ruling from there. Whenever lawyers are involved (and you know both sides have big-time representation) even an arbitration process will take a while.
From a Detroit Pistons perspective, this does not really affect them. Noel’s contract is still valid, so expect to see him at the Henry Ford Performance Center for training camp.