6/25: See update below for Noel's reaction to the rumors. Noel’s moving up on my draft board just based on how this chapter is playing out. I’m currently loving the hell out of him.
This will be quick. It’s longer than a tweet and I’m not sure I’m interested enough to build it into a piece.
By now we’ve heard about Nerlens Noel’s posse and how it’s creating bad buzz with NBA teams. We take these reports with a grain of salt and hope you do too. Agents policing agents…? Page-hit-seeking bloggers repeating rumors…?* Yeah ok.
So far Noel seems to have blown off Worldwide Wes and Rich Paul. This doesn’t rise to epically bad to us. Not saying there might be some other bad dudes out there; not saying blowing off big name agents is smart. Just saying Worldwide Wes complaining about following rules is very much a “Hello Mr. Kettle, you’re looking black today” thing.
Still… we did do some poking around and found this from a year ago:
… topics [NCAA] officials were planning on inquiring [at Everett HS] about included Noel’s relationship with Chris Driscoll, a former Providence assistant who is close to Noel. Driscoll was barred this year from campus at the Tilton School, the New Hampshire boarding school where Noel has spent the past two years and is completing his final year of high school.
Tilton officials expressed concern earlier this year that Driscoll did not have Noel’s best interests at heart. Driscoll has denied the allegation, and he did not return a call seeking comment. — 5/8/2012, Thamel, NYT.
Flash forward twelve months and Chris “did not have Noel’s best interests at heart” Driscoll is now the head of Noel’s management group. He’s not Noel’s agent; he’s the guy announcing who Noel’s agents are. He was formerly an assistant coach at Providence College; a position Driscoll got in the midst of Noel’s recruiting.
I don’t know what you have to do to get kicked off campus at Tilton High School. I don’t know what led Tilton to believe Driscoll didn’t have Noel’s best interests at heart. Thamel, again, is -suspiciously- on the job an offers a clue in his a piece from last summer.
Tilton coach Marcus O’Neil, who was one of two Tilton officials present at the August meeting, spoke extensively about Noel’s relationship with Chris Driscoll, a former Providence assistant who has been a primary figure in Noel’s life. In the article, O’Neil said that Driscoll once told him about Noel: “Nerlens is my last chance. I need to score and I need to score big.” Driscoll later told O’Neil about Noel: “You’re either with me or against me on this.” Driscoll did not return a call to his cellphone seeking comment. — 8/22/2012, Thamel, si.com.
Frankly I was expecting a human trafficking plus meth lab scenario. I have my big media filter on and it suggests that Thamel may have learned this data from bigger and competing-for-#1-overall-in-NBA-draft agents WWW and Paul. i.e., if Driscoll is kicked to the curb by Noel, cui bono?
Because: an agent hanging on to his best hope for success might be bad, but not epically bad. Not even necessarily bad. In fact, give it a treatment from Cameron Crowe and it could be a career launcher for Cuba Gooding and Renee Zellweger. For all we know maybe Chris Driscoll is simply a better Jerry Maguire or maybe Nerlens Noel’s handshake, unlike Beau Bridges’, really is strong as oak.
I still prefer the Cavs take Alex Len for reasons I laid out a month ago. More important, I’m happy to abide by Chris Grant’s decision because he hasn’t made a bad call yet.
But when I look for a reason to dislike a Nerlens Noel pick, it starts and ends with skinny-centers-without-offense don’t appeal to me.
The ‘epic bad dudes in posse’ storyline isn’t scaring me off. Not yet anyway.
Update, 6/25: Noel squashes ‘epic bad dudes’ rumor.
Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier has been all over the Noel negative rumors which were spread on Simmons’ podcast. From Sunday’s Courier, Noel talks with Tucker about it:
So what about these rumors that popped up last week, that you have ‘epic bad dudes’ around you?
“That’s foolish for anybody to say. That definitely bothered me. I heard some crazy things about myself. Seeing what was said, it was definitely provoked by agents that I didn’t meet with. I was mainly focusing on rehab and I told my advisor that. I told him, ‘Just tell them I’m not meeting with any agents.’ I guess they took that personally. That amounted to them talking negative about the people around me, thinking my advisor was the one that was putting them to the side, when I really told him I didn’t want to meet with so many agents so I could focus on my rehab. But it is what it is. They’re going to say things. I didn’t let it get to me.”
What was your reaction when you heard about the rumors?
“It was shocking. I wondered, ‘How could they say this stuff about me?’ My mom and my advisor and my agent are the only people around me. There’s nobody bad around me. You’ll never see me with too many people, nothing you’d call an entourage.”
The guess here is that the ‘advisor’ in question is Chris Driscoll. The question, to me, becomes how did this rumor get presented on The BS Report? Specifically, when I pull at this thread it raises several questions:
1. As we fans demand higher levels of accountability from athletes (see the recent Josh Gordon sagas), shouldn’t we also demand accountability from national media types?
The guess from here is Bill Simmons skates away from very damaging rumor bomb that he dropped in front of his 2,000,000/month audience. That’s messing with another man’s livelihood which (in keeping with the Tom Cruise movie theme from above) Guido from Risky Business taught us not to do. Will anyone ask Simmons the source of this rumor? Will Simmons cop to having been played by a Rich Paul or William Wesley? Doubtful.
- Otto Porter/David Falk-FAME (12 NBA clients);
- Kelly Olynyk/Arn Tellem-Wasserman (62);
- Michael Carter-Williams/Jeff Schwartz-Excel (33);
- Mason Plumlee/Mark Bartelstein-Priority (42);
- Ben McLemore/Rival Sports (6);
- Victor Oladipo/Raymond Brothers-IAM (7);
- Trey Burke/Benji Burke-Infinite (1);
- CJ McCollum/Sam Goldfeder-Excel (12);
- Alex Len/Michael Lelchitski-SIG (3).
Nerlens Noel/Andy Miller-ASM (51).
Simmons got pretty much everyone else. Or pretty much everyone else who needs some buzz to lift their stock. (LOL, Plumlee.) I wonder if he spouts that rumor if he’d had Noel in his series?
(Shouldn’t there be more red-flags about Trey Burke being his agent’s -his dad- first and only client?)
3. Payoff? Cui bono?
Ryen Russillo came up with this rumor. Look at his bio; he’s rising media type, working his way up within the biz. The agent who lands Nerlens Noel is looking at a payday of 4% on his contract. Last year’s #1 pick, Anthony Davis, signed for $10M guaranteed, $23M total. That’s $920,000 for his agent. Is it all that hard to picture an agent offering a $10,000 bounty for the media-type who can help him land that payday? Is a struggling media-type, a stumbling drunk alcoholic one at that, immune from such temptation?
I for one would like to have an explanation on Russillo’s source and agenda on spreading this rumor. For all we know, Russillo himself is an epically bad dude.
Nerlens Noel, becoming a Kanick favorite.
Max in the comments got me thinking: Noel’s handling of this situation is very impressive. Consider how he’s managed his business:
- After all is done, he winds up signing with a very established agent.
- When under some degree of public-opinion pressure, he doesn’t kick his advisor-since-high-school to the curb.
- The best: He stiffs ESPN-Grantland and their ‘NBA job interview’ series.. either as an eff-you for the rumor spreading or as an eff-you, “I don’t dance for ESPN.”
- He grants “The Big Nerlens ‘epic bad dudes’ Interview” to the local UK hoops beat writer.
- “My mom and my advisor and my agent are the only people around me.”
Hell, you might think the concept of a poll to decide his draft night outfit is cheezy. Ok it is… but frankly, at least the three choices are all pretty smart. (I voted for Look #2.)
Noel’s moving up on my draft board just based on how this chapter is playing out. I’m loving the hell out of him right now.
* Not you WFNY/Craig; I was referring to Simmons and his guest.