You’ve likely heard the name Rich Paul in tandem with LeBron James. The CEO of Klutch Sports Group has been long-time friends with the NBA superstar. The duo met at the Akron-Canton Airport more than 20 years ago when James was still in high school. He liked Paul’s Warren Moon throwback jersey, and the two exchanged contact information.
Fast-forward to today. Rich Paul is among the most powerful agents in all of sports, representing James and 32 other players.
That roster of players is quite valuable. In total, Paul represents $500,749,353 of player salaries for the upcoming 2023-24 season. If we look at the next five years, Paul is currently managing players who will make a collective $1.74 billion — $1,746,197,257, to be exact.
Paul didn’t go to college — something that his critics have pointed out as a deterrent. Instead, he started selling vintage jerseys after high school — and even sold LeBron both a Magic Johnson Lakers jersey and a Joe Namath Rams jersey. Once he connected with James, it opened the door to his new career. Paul started working under Leon Rose, who’s now the president of the New York Knicks. Rose negotiated James’ 2006 contract extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
By 2012, Paul was established enough to start his own agency, and he took James with him. Paul, who’s no stranger to partnering with powerful people, hired agent and attorney Mark Termini to negotiate contracts for Klutch Sports Group. By the time Termini left in 2020, Klutch had negotiated over $1 billion worth of contracts for 25 clients.
Today, Paul represents some of the biggest names in the league. Though LeBron is the top superstar on the roster, Paul is also the agent for Anthony Davis (scoring him a recent huge contract), Fred VanVleet, Zach LaVine, Darius Garland, Draymond Green, Lonzo Ball, and De’Aaron Fox.
James, Davis, VanVleet, and LaVine will all make more than $40 million this upcoming season. Even the lowest-paid player of Paul’s clients, Milwaukee Bucks forward Chris Livingston, will make more than $1.1 million next year.
NBA rules state that agents can take between a 4% and 10% cut of their players’ salaries, depending on the player’s tenure in the league. Paul will only make 4% from more established veterans like James and Davis, but for guys like Livingston or Golden State Warriors forward Moses Moody, Paul could be earning up to 10% of their earnings.
Even if Paul was making 4% for each of his 33 clients, he’d still earn slightly more than $20 million this upcoming season and just under $70 million over the next five years. But since he’s likely earning more than 4% for several of his players, a safer bet is somewhere between $25 and $30 million this upcoming season and $90 to $100 million over the next five years. And that’s not even taking into account contract negotiations and new players coming into the league. He could very well surpass that $100 million mark.
Not bad for someone who dropped out of college his freshman year.