LeBron James
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the first half of a game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, March 4, 2019. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

LeBron James’ agent Rich Paul has been accused of causing disruption within the Los Angeles Lakers franchise and playing the role of kingmaker since the three-time NBA champion joined on a four-year deal last summer. He is said to have met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver and spoken about the Lakers dismissing Luke Walton early last season and hiring Tyronn Lue, who has previously worked with James in Cleveland.

An ESPN report by Baxter Holmes quotes a number of Lakers staffers, NBA front-office executives and agents – all anonymous – talking about the influence Paul had on the management. He is said to have turned the mood against Walton after a poor start which saw Magic Johnson, the then president of basketball operations to “berate” the head coach after Lakers made a poor start to the 2018-19 campaign.

“In November, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Maverick Carter, LeBron's longtime business partner, met for lunch. James' agent, Rich Paul, was seated at a nearby table, and at one point, approached Silver to complain about Walton, multiple sources familiar with the interaction told ESPN,” Holmes wrote.

“Paul said he didn't believe Walton was the right coach for the Lakers. Silver shrugged off the remark and asked whom Paul thought would be the right coach. Paul suggested Tyronn Lue,” he added. “Paul was also letting it be known through back-channel conversations, including those with reporters, that he wasn't on board with Walton.”

The Lakers reportedly confirmed rumors about James’ agent being allowed to travel on the Lakers jet after one particular game, which did not go down well with many members of the franchise. The notion among the coaches and players who saw Paul in the team’s training facility was that he was plotting Walton’s ousting or planning to trade a number of young players in order to bring in a superstar.

“And so the perception existed among the Lakers' coaching staff that Paul sought to oust Walton. And some players also believed, according to coaching staff members and those players' agents, that Klutch Sports was working to trade them away for a superstar. Given those perceptions, one former Lakers player described Paul's presence on the team charter as a 'culture killer,'” Holmes wrote.

"Coaches know Rich is trying to get them fired, and players know Rich is trying to get them traded," said one agent with ties to the Lakers, who called Paul's presence on the plane "destructive."

Paul, however, has come out and denied the claims made by the ESPN report and made it clear that he is simply trying to look out for his client and is not concerned about what others think.

“I understand my position," Paul said, as quoted on Yahoo Sports. "I respect all those in our industry. At the end of the day, all I can do is continue to do a job for my client. That's it. I can't worry about what somebody thinks, the perception. All I can do is work hard and continue down the path that I'm on."