Nerlens Noel’s Lawsuit Against Former Agent Rich Paul Must Be Sent To Arbitration

NBA: New York Knicks at Utah Jazz
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Per the ruling of a federal judge in Dallas, Texas, center Nerlens Noel of the Detroit Pistons must send his claims against his former agent Rich Paul to arbitration. Noel’s suit, which alleges that Paul had negligently advised him on contract offers, was reportedly dismissed by Judge Jane Boyle. Judge Boyle concluded that Noel had contractually assented to arbitration as part of his Stand Player Agent Contract (SPAC) with Paul and Klutch Sports Group.

In 2021, Noel filed a lawsuit against Paul and Klutch for alleged negligence and breaches of contract, fiduciary duty and fair dealing. Noel claims that Paul wrongfully advised him to reject a 4-year, $70 million offer made by the Dallas Mavericks back in the summer of 2017. Noel also claims that Paul had lost interest in him as a client following the 2017-18 season, when he was held back due to multiple injuries.

Paul allegedly went so far as to not return Noel’s phone calls from NBA teams, the suit claims. The former agent is reportedly being blamed for diminished earnings, according to Noel, as the 28-year believes he could have been earning $70 million over the same four-year span as opposed to only $13 million.

Noel was drafted in the sixth-round of the 2013 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans. The center is currently on his sixth team (including the Pelicans, who traded Noel on draft night). In 2021, Noel averaged 3.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game as a member of the New York Knicks. The Knicks traded Noel along with Alec Burks to the Detroit Pistons in July, in exchange for a second-round pick and draft rights to Nikola Radičević.

Paul firmly denies the allegations made by Noel, arguing that the 28-year-old owes him a 4% agent commission on a one-year, $5 million contract that Noel had signed with the Knicks in November 2020. Paul represents various NBA stars, including Los Angeles Lakers’ Lebron James.

The agent reportedly initiated the process for arbitration before Noel filed his lawsuit against him. According to the SPAC, “any and all disputes between the Player and the Agent involving the meaning, interpretation, application, or enforcement of this Agreement or the obligations of the parties under this Agreement shall be resolved exclusively through the Arbitration procedure set forth in Section 5 of the NBPA Regulations Governing Player Agents.”

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