The Houston Roundball Review is an online basketball publication
by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

David Falk Still Wields a Strong Hand

The "Basketball for Thought" is a commentary by Kris Gardner.

March 1999

If anyone doubted whether agents would have any power with cap limits in place as a result of the new collective bargaining agreement, the deals made around the NBA's recent trade deadline should assuage those doubts. Agent David Falk still wields a LOT of power.

Of the 5 deals which were completed, 3 deals involved clients represented by Falk or who were represented by an agent who worked for Falk.

I don't begrudge an agent trying to maximize his clients' earnings. That is an agent's job. However, holding a team hostage with the threat of "my client won't re-sign with you; so, you better trade him now and receive something or wait and receive nothing" is too much.

Falk made that threat to Charlotte who traded F Glen Rice to the Lakers and to Minnesota who traded G Stephon Marbury to New Jersey. Agent Curtis Polk made the threat to Cleveland who traded C Vitaly Potapenko to Boston.

I think it's time to stop referring to the Nets as the New Jersey Nets. It's time to call them the New Jersey Falks. Realize that Marbury, guard Kerry Kittlesand forward Keith Van Horn are all represented by Falk. Marbury and Kittles just signed contract extensions to stay in New Jersey and everyone knows Van Horn will sign an extension next summer.

"The professional NBA (expletive), that game we've got to restructure around players who are serious and committed. That's my feeling. I think we let too many players blackmail us in this league," said Milwaukee Bucks coach George Karl.

Marbury may have gotten his wish and returned to his hometown area of New York simply "because I want to be happy." However, you'll have a tough time convincing the people in Minnesota of Stephon's "happy" claim.

"What's sad is all the work we did here to try to help Steph as a player . . . especially (T-wolves coach Flip Saunders. Flip poured his heart into coaching him. Loyalty is something that's forgotten in this game today. There are at least four things more important than winning. Money. Shots. Playing time. Recognition."

"After that, it's probably about winning," T-wolves GM Kevin McHale said.

"That's got to change. I know I can't stand that attitude."

Unfortunately, most teams are unwilling or unable to tell an agent "no" and call the bluff or risk losing a player with no compensation. The only resort to not re-signing a player and waiting until the summer is a "sign and trade" deal. Those deals can only happen if the agent agrees with the new team which his client is headed. So, even sign and trade deals are in the hands of the agents.

Keep in mind, Minnesota had a deal to send Marbury to Miami; unfortunately, Mr. Falk told the Heat, Stephon had no plans to re-sign with them.

Sadly, the players / clients seem to be unwilling (or unfortunately unable) to speak out and remind their agent the simple fact that the agent works for the player. If Potapenko liked Cleveland so much, he should have told his agent he wanted to remain with the Cavs, period.

Commissioner David Stern accomplished most of his goals under the new agreement; but, he still has a major problem in the league: agents like David Falk.

More 1999 Basketballs for Thought
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