Blog Entry

Postups: Wall breaks ranks with LeBron

Posted on: May 6, 2010 6:36 pm
John Wall played at Kentucky for John Calipari, a key player in the nexus of basketball power that also includes William “Wes” Wesley, LeBron James and LeBron’s agent, Leon Rose. So it was a huge upset when Wall broke ranks with Rose’s Creative Artists Agency and signed this week with agent Dan Fegan.

Or was it? By spurning CAA, Wall became the third straight Calipari guard to break away from the agency that everyone assumed he would join. Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans both played for Calipari at Memphis, and both signed with Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group.

So much for the conspiracy theories that CAA would steer LeBron and Calipari to New Jersey (and then Brooklyn) if the Nets got the No. 1 pick, and thus, selected Wall. The best player available in the draft since LeBron himself will enter the NBA with a clean slate, and with no entanglements beyond those already entrenched within his inner circle of close advisors.

In effect, Wall won’t be riding LeBron’s – or anyone else’s – coattails.

Fegan’s BEST agency was among four finalists to represent Wall, along with CAA (Rose), Wasserman (Tellem) and Happy Walters, who represents Amar’e Stoudemire. BEST’s Kentucky connections didn’t hurt – its parent company, Blue Equity LLC, is based in Louisville, Ky., – but other factors entered into Wall’s decision.

One of those factors, sources say, was Wall’s desire to chart his own course to superstardom and marketing supremacy, rather than join LeBron’s sports marketing company, LRMR, which was formed by his childhood friends – most notably front man Maverick Carter.

“Why would you want to be LRMR when you could do it on your own?” said an industry expert who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss Wall’s business dealings.

What Wall does have in common with LeBron, however, is a desire to have his close circle of friends and advisors involved in his basketball and business dealings. To that end, sources say Dwon Clifton – the director of player development at Baylor and one of Wall’s former amateur coaches – is expected to become a certified agent and join BEST to advise Wall on a day-to-day basis. BEST also is in the process of setting up a multi-platform, collaborative marketing plan for Wall, the Sports Business Journal reported.

So just as Clifton’s presence at Baylor did not steer Wall to Waco, the Wesley-LeBron-Calipari triumvirate didn’t send him to the agency everyone expected. It was a coup for Fegan, whose stable of NBA players includes Shawn Marion, Anderson Varajeo, Jason Terry, Nene, Yi Jianlian ... and now, the player who has sent a strong message that he’s not simply trying to be the next LeBron.

And with that, here’s the rest of this postseason edition of Post-Ups:


This is always a time of uncertainty in the coaching and front-office ranks. But turmoil in Portland and Denver has rival executives even more on edge than usual, sources say. One executive with another team expressed dismay that Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard could be on the way out after he and former assistant GM Tom Penn – who was fired in March – built a team that won 50 games in the ultra-competitive Western Conference and won a road playoff without All-Star Brandon Roy. Two playoff starters were acquired in trades orchestrated by Pritchard – Andre Miller and Marcus Camby – that didn’t sacrifice future cap space. 

A popular slam against Pritchard – the selection of Greg Oden over Kevin Durant – falsely assumes that the then-Sonics wouldn’t have done the same thing. When Oden got hurt again this season, he was averaging 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds, finally showing signs of being the defensive force everyone thought he would be. When Oden’s backup, Joel Pryzbilla, got hurt, the Blazers went 27 games with 37-year-old Juwan Howard as their starting center – and still won 50 games. 

All of this was accomplished with the lowest effective payroll in the league – even lower than Oklahoma City if you exclude the $9 million occupied by Darius Miles following his cameo with Memphis last season. 

“If Kevin’s in trouble,” the rival GM said, “what does that say about the rest of us?” 

Pritchard makes roughly 20 percent of Blazers coach Nate McMillan’s $4 million salary and has two years left on his contract, including an option for 2011-12. If the Blazers fire him, his colleagues don’t expect him to be out of work for long. (Even those who don’t like Pritchard personally admit he’s done a good job.) One suggested the Knicks as a logical landing spot. Team president Donnie Walsh, 69, is expected to begin searching for an heir apparent once the free-agent frenzy dies down this summer. 


Another case in point is Denver’s Mark Warkentien, the 2008-09 executive of the year, who is muddling through a difficult offseason without a contract for next season. Sources say Denver planned to make a decision on whether to retain Warkentien within a week or two after the Nuggets’ season-ending first-round loss to the Jazz. But to date there has been no movement – and there appears to be no urgency on Denver’s part. The Nuggets don’t have a first- or second-round pick this year, and Warkentien’s contract is believed to expire Aug. 1. 

Other than the obvious – coach George Karl’s ongoing recovery from neck and throat cancer that caused him to miss Denver’s brief playoff appearance – the most pressing offseason matter for the Nuggets will be trying to negotiate an extension with All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony. Since Anthony is not a free agent this summer, the window for such discussions opened as soon as Denver’s season ended. Warkentien declined to comment on the status of negotiations.

With so much attention on this summer’s free agent class loaded with some of Anthony’s closest friends and teammates from the 2008 Olympic team, it’s worth wondering if Anthony is ready to explore the marketplace next summer. For example, if the Knicks were to strike out in their bid to land two marquee free agents this July, they could preserve enough cap space to make a run at Anthony in 2011. Anthony has an early termination option after next season, and the ongoing battle over collective bargaining will play a significant role in his decision. By signing a three-year extension this summer, Anthony could lock himself in at the current max salaries, which almost certainly will be more favorable than under the new labor deal.

Are there any clues to be gleaned from Anthony’s last extension in 2006? Why, yes there are. Whereas contemporaries LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh opted for three-year extensions and the chance to become free agents in 2010, Anthony chose a four-year deal with an opt-out in the fifth year. He's faced this decision before, and chose money and security over free agency. But it’s worth noting that Melo was represented by BDA’s Calvin Andrews for that contract. Now, he’s with Leon Rose, under the same CAA umbrella that negotiated the three-year deals for James, Wade and Bosh. 


The Hornets are in the process of scheduling an interview with former player and current broadcaster Mark Jackson for their vacant head coaching position, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. GM Jeff Bower, team president Hugh Weber and prospective new owner Gary Chouest are hoping to meet with Jackson in Boston this weekend when the former point guard is in town for commentating duties for the Cavaliers-Celtics series. The New Orleans brass already have interviewed Avery Johnson and Mike Fratello, and also are interested in speaking with Mavs assistant Dwane Casey, Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin, Rockets assistant Elston Turner and Celtics associate head coach Tom Thibodeau. 


Reports that Hall of Famer Doug Collins is “intrigued” by the Sixers’ head coaching job are accurate, according to a source who said Collins is “trying to get in there in the worst way.” The Sixers have interviewed Collins and Johnson, and are expected to meet with Blazers assistant Monty Williams next week, perhaps as early as Monday, sources say. Everything in Philly, including Ed Stefanski's team presidency, is up in the air while Larry Brown decides his next move.


While the Bulls would be wise to investigate Kentucky coach John Calipari’s interest in coaching Derrick Rose, the Chicago front office is moving deliberately in the wake of Vinny Del Negro’s firing. Casey and Turner, both candidates when Del Negro was hired, are expected to get another shot. Also moving glacially in their search for a head coach are the Clippers, who sources say are holding out hope that Brown could be persuaded to move West. Brown is believed to be going to Philly if he’s going anywhere, but that wouldn’t stop him from using the Clippers for leverage, sources say.


Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: May 7, 2010 2:41 am

Postups: Wall breaks ranks with LeBron

Correct. I would say that Wall is a more-talented version of Rajon Rondo than compare him to LeBron. Like Rondo, Wall is a superb distributor with a knack for seeing the floor. Like Rondo, his shooting is highly suspect. Unlike Rondo, his defense is not all that good. Wall also (again like Rajon Rondo) lacks James' strength and power and he is not a great rebounder from the point spot, though he is not bad. 
So to sum up, I think Muck is absolutely correct in calling this a huge reach. Is Wall the best player in this year's draft? Probably, yes. But to compare him with LeBron James as 'the best since LeBron' is a reach. College careers do not always give an accurate measure of how good an NBA player the player will be. Let's see how Wall does once he gets to the NBA before we crown him as 'the greatest since LeBron'. In addition this kind of nonsense is insulting to the great talents who have come into the NBA since James - as Muck very properly says - what about Howard, Durant, Westbrook, Evans, Curry, etc? Are these guys chopped liver?
Wall needs to prove himself. And right now he is not in LeBron James' class. To say otherwise is simply overuse of hyperbole. 

Since: Apr 19, 2010
Posted on: May 7, 2010 12:09 am

Postups: Wall breaks ranks with LeBron

i dont believe that wall is the best available since lebron. durant is a beast as everyone has seen this season. oden and griffen....who knows with them because of injury. we will see what wall has when hes actually in the league. hes got loads of talent though. definately watch out for him in the up and coming seasons. hopefully wall fits in good wherever he goes.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 6, 2010 11:36 pm

Best Player available since Lebron?


I find that hard to believe.  Wall's a talent, but people are thinking more highly of him than people did of Oden, Durant, Griffin, Howard?

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