NBA agents have never been more important.
That statement sounds bold, I know. But in addition to negotiating contracts for their players, agents now hold serious power in the labor battle and, if they’re good at what they do, help players plan financially for a period when the players will have limited, if any, income.
Agents must determine whether the player would benefit from playing overseas, and if the answer is yes, agents negotiate a contract that is hopefully A) fair to the player, and B) contains an opt out clause for when the NBA season returns.
If the player decides to stay in the United States or the player has not yet gone overseas, the agent plays a part in setting up an offseason/lockout workout plan. JaJuan Johnson’s agent Kevin Bradbury, for example, advised Johnson not to sign overseas before pushing Johnson to work out with Tim Grover in Chicago. (Boston Globe)
“We have him in the right place as far as his work with Tim Grover,’’ Bradbury said of Johnson to the Boston Globe. “His individual work that he’s doing, that’s going to help carry him through the season.
“We are of the mind-set that we’re going to play ball soon, and when we do that, JaJuan will be part of the rotation. We are not going to jeopardize what we might accomplish in his rookie year [with an overseas contract].’’
Bradbury said Johnson will not struggle financially because good agents knew the lockout was coming and planned accordingly. For now, according to the Globe, Johnson and fellow Celtics rookie E’Twaun Moore are living off trading card deals and advances from their agents. If the lockout persists through the entire season, Bradbury said, Johnson will still be okay.
“We knew this lockout was coming, so if your agent was smart, you had a plan for this already,’’ Bradbury said. “There is not that sense of ‘Oh my God, the lockout is here.’
“We knew these guys weren’t going to be able to make money for a certain amount of time and we’re not sure how long that’s going to be. We’ll have to have a plan in place for a few months or for the whole season or whatever happens. We have a plan for each of those things, so they are not struggling.’’
In addition to sound financial planning, Johnson’s offseason hopefully includes drinking nineteen protein shakes per day, eating enough calories to feed a small country, and living in the weight room. I would love to see him return to the court with Ben Wallace’s physique and Kimbo Slice’s mentality. Okay, so that’s not likely. I’ll settle for Johnson reporting to camp in good enough shape that a stiff wind won’t blow him over.
In the meantime, like the rest of his draft classmates, Johnson will rely heavily on his agent’s advice and even his agent’s money. For better or worse, agents now matter as much as they ever have.