Leon Rose's Agency Purchased by CAA

Wow, this is very interesting. Sources--and not just a few of them--have told me for more than a year that Leon Rose does very little to recruit the vast majority of his clients.

That work, I have heard again and again, is done largely by William Wesley, in exchange for a handsome percentage of the fees. (And, as recruiting players is apparently much more difficult and time-consuming than representing them in negotiations where most of the terms are fixed, a handsome share to the recruiter is probably appropriate.)

(And if you're wondering who William Wesley is, click the link on the right and read all day, from the bottom up.)

Clearly, Rose has amazing clients. LeBron James, Allen Iverson, Andrea Bargnani, Richard Hamilton... the list goes on and on.

Now Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal reports that Leon Rose's practice has been sold to CAA:

CAA could announce that it has acquired Rose’s practice, which represents several NBA stars, including Allen Iverson and last year’s No. 1 NBA draft pick, Andrea Bargnani, as soon as this week, sources said. Rose and a CAA spokesman would not comment.

The deal would give CAA, which acquired the practices of prominent football, baseball and hockey agents last year, a presence in all four major American team sports. The deal would also provide a link between Hollywood’s most powerful entertainment agency, which boasts clients such as Will Smith, George Clooney, Steven Spielberg and Jerry Bruckheimer, and one of the iconic athletes in sports today.

It is not clear whether CAA would have any stake in marketing representation for James. Some sources said that CAA would not have any part in working on future endorsement deals for the Cleveland Cavaliers star, but another source said that was not the case.

James has his own marketing company, LRMR Marketing, run by childhood friend Maverick Carter. And at the same time that James’ contract agent is in talks to be acquired by CAA, Carter is being advised by powerful New York investment firm Allen & Co. on potential business opportunities, including new investors in that company, sources said.

“I have been talking to Maverick for some time about his marketing company,” said Steve Greenberg, managing director of Allen & Co. “We think that Maverick Carter is an extraordinary young talent, and we at Allen & Co. are trying to be as helpful as we can. This marketing company of his, we think, is going to be a big winner and mostly because of Maverick.”

Greenberg did not detail what role Allen & Co. would play in working with LRMR, but said it was advising Carter in an informal role. A spokesman for LRMR declined to comment.

LRMR was launched in 2006 after James fired his original agent, Aaron Goodwin, who negotiated his endorsement deals with Nike, Bubblicious, Upper Deck and Coca-Cola brands Sprite and Powerade. LRMR has thus far not negotiated any new endorsement deals for James, but sources say that is about to change.

My knee-jerk reaction was to think: how much is Leon Rose's practice worth, if he really is, as rumored, giving the bulk of the proceeds to Wesley? (Especially, as this article speculates, the right to market LeBron James might not part of the deal.)

But that depends a bit on who the purchaser is. This is a a strategic acquisition, to be sure. In this case, CAA gets a front-row seat to use its multi-faceted promotional services with Rose's stars. Put it another way, if CAA thought it could get LeBron James into a major motion picture before, they would have had to have made contacts and stood in line just to make the pitch. Now they're everybody's best friends and they're on speed dial. There's opportunity there, even if not a massive chunk of existing revenue.

Not to mention Rose gets to offer clients a strong marketing and Hollywood presence.

UPDATE: Ooh, one other angle here... in the last few days, there were rumors that baseball's Ryan Howard was going to sign with Leon Rose. Then it was announced that Howard signed with CAA, and there was a palpable "phew" from agents who represent baseball players. They were pleased this Rose/Wesley juggernaut was not actually branching out into baseball too. But alas, perhaps they are. Teamed up with news of CAA acquiring Rose's agency, this Ryan Howard signing could be, in many different ways, the beginning of something big.