Back in April, I wrote extensively about the vultures at CAA circling the sports management business by hiring some top sports agents repping football and baseball stars. And I also reported how this was CAA prez Richard Lovett’s idea because of his hero worship of the late Mark McCormack and his “100% market share” model for IMG, the famed sports management company. Today, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that “CAA is expected to finalize a deal to acquire the sports representation business of Leon Rose, an attorney and agent now working for a Philadelphia area law firm.” Rose reps NBA superstars LeBron James and Allen Iverson, among others. “The expected pact with Mr. Rose would significantly deepen CAA’s bench of heavy-hitting sports agents and establish a solid foothold in yet another league sport, basketball,” the paper gushes. Unlike the 10% Hollywood commissions, pro sports players unions typically cap agent fees at 5% or less, so money is made on lucrative endorsement contracts — but they’re hard to come by. Look at CAA’s representation so far of USC quarterback star Matt Leinart after they stole him from Leigh Steinberg, the famed Newport Beach sports agent. It’s been a disaster, in many respects. Not only did Leinart only go double-digit in the draft and left millions of dollars off the table by not signing with a high-profile team, but then he pissed off the Arizona Cardinals and its fans with a long sit-out, and then capped it off by fathering an illegitimate child. Oh, and he also dated skanky Paris Hilton. Not exactly the best way to seduce advertisers into parading his movie-star handsome looks — so now it’s Matt Who? The WSJ points out that, in the case of LeBron James, “it isn’t necessarily clear what CAA will get out in the near term. To be sure, scoring Mr. James, a Cleveland Cavaliers forward and one of the biggest names in basketball, would be a huge coup. But Mr. James last summer extended his current contract for up to four years and an estimated $60 million — meaning new commissions for CAA could be several years away at least. And while the 22-year-old prodigy has signed significant endorsement deals with a variety of retailers and consumer goods companies, including a seven-year agreement with Nike Inc. valued at $90 million, his marketing ventures are handled not by his agent, but by business manager Maverick Carter and other longtime friends.” Maybe this sports biz ain’t at easy as CAA tries to make it look.
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