According to Yahoo! Sports, Rich Paul a longtime friend of LeBron James and James’s new agent, is under investigation for his relationship with Texas point guard Myck Kabongo. Paul is also the agent for Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson, and also a former teammate of Kabongo. The odd part of this whole thing is that Thompson is saying he paid for the trip, not Paul. Thompson and Kabongo have been friends for a long time, and both hail from Toronto, Canada. Kabongo and Thompson also played high school basketball together at St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey before becoming teammates again at Texas.
Amongst other things, Paul is being investigated for his role in a trip Kabongo took to Cleveland this spring. Kabongo worked with a personal trainer named Jerry Powell during his trip. Powell says that he never dealt with Paul, only Kabongo.
After the initial report, Thompson came out and said that he, not Paul, paid for Kabongo’s trip. He says that he paid for it originally, and then in compliance with NCAA rules, had Kabongo’s brother reimburse him for the trip. “Did I pay for him? Well, yes and no,” Thompson said. “You know, I actually had to pay for it and then had his brother reimburse me, which is totally fine with the NCAA, we discussed that. Again, we want to respect the process. I think everything’s going to work out. I don’t see no eligibility issues, but that’s for the NCAA to work out.”
To be clear, the issue is not whether or not Paul had a relationship with Kabongo; that it is not illegal under NCAA rules. What is illegal is Paul giving benefits, money, or promises to college or high school players. If evidence is found, Paul can expect a suspension of some kind, likely a full calendar year. During that time, he would not be able to negotiate contracts or any sort deal on behalf of a client. That could mean that players like Thompson could leave in pursuit of an agent who can represent them right now.
Paul, who recently left Creative Artists Agency to form his own agency (dubbed Klutch Sports), is also a member of James’s marketing group LRMR. Kabongo, the player in question, averaged 9.6 points and 5.2 assists per game last season for the Longhorns. He is expected to be a first-round talent in next year’s NBA Draft.