LeBron James' agent Rich Paul blames Bazley's $1M internship on 'broken system'

Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Remy MartinKlutch Sports agent Rich Paul arranged for top recruit Darius Bazley to work out on his own and intern with New Balance in the lead up to the 2019 NBA Draft.
  • Darius Bazley – the 13th-ranked basketball recruit in the class of 2018 – de-committed from the Syracuse Orange in March to become the first top-ranked prospect to choose to play in the NBA G League instead of going to college.
  • The 6-foot-9, 210-pound power forward signed with Klutch Sports’ Rich Paul – who boasts prominent clients such as LeBron James, John Wall, and Ben Simmons – and together they decided to scrap that plan and have Bazley train on his own in the run-up to the 2019 NBA Draft.
  • Bazley made headlines by signing a multiyear,$US1 million deal to work as an intern at New Balance this winter.
  • Paul, who arranged the internship, said that Bazley’s unorthodox path to the 2019 NBA Draft is the result of a “broken system” in an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump” Wednesday.

Darius Bazley – the 13th-ranked basketball recruit in the class of 2018 committed to play for Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange in July of 2017, but eight months later decided instead to become the first top-ranked prospect to play professionally in the NBA G League instead of going to college.

The Cincinnati, Ohio native signed with Klutch Sports’ Rich Paul – who boasts prominent clients such as LeBron James, John Wall, and Ben Simmons – and together they quickly decided that it would be in the 6-foot-9, 210-pound power forward’s best interest to scrap his plans to play against far more developed professionals in the G League. Bazley now plans to train on his own, but he made headlines by signing a multiyear, $US1 million deal to work as an intern at New Balance.

In an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump,” Paul said Bazley’s unorthodox path to the 2019 NBA Draft is the result of a “broken system.”

“We’re talking about a system here that has been broken for a long time,” Paul said. “And these kids and the families need options. And for me, I come from the athlete’s side where I’m always trying to find out, ‘How do I do what’s best for the athlete?'”

You can check out his full comments here:

Bazley’s internship deal with New Balance guarantees him the $US1 million regardless of what happens with his professional basketball career but offers an additional $US13 million if he reaches all performance-based incentives. The 18-year-old was happy with the arrangements Paul drew up for him.

“They hooked me up,” Bazley told the New York Times’ Marc Stein. “This will also be fun. It’s not like I’m going to be doing something I don’t want to do.”

Critics – including Boeheim himself – have questioned the move. The veteran Syracuse head coach told Stadium’s Jeff Goodman “LeBron did a nice job helping his client. It is LeBron’s client, right?” LeBron quickly responded:

According to Stein, Bazley often receives questions as to why an NBA prospect would spend three months leading up to the NBA draft in a cubicle rather than on the court, but his agent isn’t too worried:

“There will be some things he misses out on, but I’m not worried at all – not with the talent and skill set he has,” Paul said. “No matter what we do this year, he still has to be developed in the NBA. You see it even with the highest draft picks – it’s not like you come into the league as a rookie and set the league on fire.”

Whether or not this decision will affect Bazley’s draft stock in June remains to be seen, but Bazley is confident in his ability to forge his path and emerge successfully.

“This is my risk,” Bazley said. “I’m going to go ahead and do it this way, and I’m still going to succeed, even when others say I won’t.”

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