Cleveland native Rich Paul is reportedly leaving Creative Arts Agency to start his own representation firm, and appears to be taking LeBron James with him.
Paul, a close friend of James and one of the “Rs” in the infamous LRMR marketing firm, had worked under James’ former agent Leon Rose for several seasons, garnering several first-round and lottery draft picks through the duration. Sports Business Journal reported that James was looking to change representation despite Rose being the individual who negotiated James’ last two contracts.
As told to WFNY in a feature from last summer, it was Paul who informed Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert of James’ decision to leave in free agency and, in the same summer, started to gain traction on his own as a Cleveland-based representative, starting to focus on this side of the business more than the LRMR marketing-based initiatives. Starting out as the agent for guard Jonny Flynn, Paul would later obtain representation for first-round draft choice Eric Bledsoe as well as lottery selections in forwards (Cleveland’s) Tristan Thompson and (Cleveland target) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
As Brian Windhorst reports, the move is more of a “new partnership than a breakup,” as James is not making the move because of any hard feelings with Rose or William “Wes” Wesley. Paul, under Rose at CAA, but quickly has earned the respect of league executives and owners and this move can only serve as a benefit.