Why The Celtics Should Stay Away From Rich Paul


When the Toronto-born Tristan Thompson was selected fourth overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2011 Draft, it only made sense for him to hire Ohio-native Rich Paul to be his agent. Having Paul around would help Thompson integrate himself into Ohio. Whether it be directions or restaurant recommendations, he had Paul. But what really stood out on Rich Paul’s resume, was his biggest client, LeBron James.

Besides James and Thompson, Paul’s other clients include:

Fast-forward to last year: LeBron returns to Cleveland and Tristan Thompson forgoes signing an extension at the 2014 Early Extension Deadline. It was a smart move, because with LeBron on Thompson’s team, it meant infinitely higher exposure for Thompson. Even though Thompson sat behind Kevin Love in the depth chart, he still put up respectable numbers for a sixth man, averaging 8 points and 9 rebounds in just 26 minutes per game.

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Thompson’s big break came after Kelly Olynyk injured Kevin Love’s arm in the first round of the playoffs. This would force Love to sit for the remainder of the playoffs. Thompson would help kill off the Celtics, in addition to the Bulls and then the Hawks.

The Cavaliers had an ugly offense with Thompson in the starting lineup. James, along with Irving and Smith would just fire-off jump shots while Thompson set himself up on the offensive boards and grab their missed shots. It was an unorthodox offense, but thanks Thompson was averaging over four offensive rebounds per game during the playoffs (over 10 total), it was effective enough. Thompson’s ability to help the Cavs defeat not just the Eastern Conference’s best teams, but the Warriors two times during the Finals illustrated Thompson was a valuable player.

But is Thompson a max player? Apparently not.

Rich Paul thought Thompson’s heroics during last year’s postseason warranted a max deal, and maybe with the cap jump next season he was right, but with Cleveland already significantly over the salary cap, he should’ve known five-years at $97 million wasn’t going to happen.

Thompson should have done one of two things:

  • Sign the qualifying offer of $6.8 million (still a hefty sum of money), and simply enjoy the spoils of unrestricted free agency next summer.
  • Take the Cavaliers’ 5-year/$80 million deal

But Paul and Thompson overplayed their hand. Now Thompson is essentially jobless and without health insurance, which prevented him from representing his national team this summer -who lost – and may now miss the Olympics. Thompson’s not a free agent however. Since he’s still technically a restricted free agent, he cannot sign for another team since the Cavs still have a chance to match his offer. Thompson also cannot go back and sign the qualifying offer. It’s too late. His best bet now is for the Cavaliers to get off to a poor start, and then use that as leverage by having Rich Paul say “well this wouldn’t have happened if you had Tristan Thompson” (Cam Chancellor, anyone?). From there, Paul and Thompson would have the leverage to negotiate a deal in their favor.

But where it stands, Rich Paul has successfully hurt both the Cavaliers and his client. The Cavs now have this huge distraction lingering over their heads in addition to missing one of their vital role players. At the same time, Thompson’s without a job and has a big chance of losing out on the money the Cavaliers initially offered.

The Celtics meanwhile, have this perfect balance of affordable contracts and impeccable team chemistry. In their rebuild, they cannot afford to land in any discouraging contract extension stand-offs like Thompson’s. Thus, they should try and avoid Rich Paul clients (unless they’re the next LeBron James, that is.)

In next year’s draft, there’s a shooting guard called Caris LeVert who’s from Pickerington, OH, who would make a perfect wing player on the Celtics. Between his length, shooting ability and 3&D potential, he’s projected to go in the top-15. With the Celtics bundle of draft picks, every prospect could fall to the Celtics – including LeVert.

But if the Ohio native gets courted by Rich Paul – which is sure to happen – and LeVert decides to hire him, it may be more trouble than it’s worth for Ainge to draft LeVert. But hopefully rookies like LeVert have seen how embarrassing this saga Paul created was, and instead opt to stay away from Paul.

Next: Perry Jones Suffers A Setback

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