Over the course of NBA All-Star Weekend, as LeBron James did his best to ratchet up the heat on the Lakers with his continuing praise for opposing executives and open flirtations with a return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, there was one other, slightly more subtle shot fired in the simmering cold war between Los Angeles and James’ agency, Klutch Sports.
On Sunday, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report dropped a long, multi-faceted story on the growing pressure for the Lakers to appease their star forward with his contract coming to an end in a little over a year, but it featured one small note that got most of the attention; with Pincus writing that “according to multiple NBA sources, Klutch is not happy with Pelinka. The sentiment has long percolated, but it reached a boil when Pelinka refused to trade Westbrook and a future first-round pick (likely 2027) for Houston Rockets guard and Klutch client John Wall.”
By Monday morning, Paul had spoken to Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, with the latter of whom saying on “First Take” that the super agent wanted to deny one specific part of that report (emphasis mine):
“Rich Paul called me yesterday and asked me to quote him on this story about him, and Klutch Sports, and essentially them wanting the Lakers to trade Russell Westbrook and a first-round pick to Houston for John Wall. He wanted me to state emphatically that there was absolutely, positively no truth to that whatsoever. He never did that. He did not do that. The people who wrote the story never contacted him to get any kind of perspective from him on that.
“It is an absolute lie, and he said ‘could you please do me a favor and quote me and tell the world that I specifically said that’s a damn lie. There is no truth. It never happened.’ Just for what it’s worth, that’s what Rich Paul says about these stories that have been put out there. Fair enough. So I quoted him.”