NFL players, and those drafted by NFL teams who have not yet signed professional contracts, have been locked out by the league since March 3, 2011. Not only have these players not had the ability to speak to team management, they also have had absolutely no access to their teams’ facilities. Whereas players would normally have been working out to stay in football shape at their respective team facilities by this point in time, many are training on their own or in make-shift team workouts put together by individual players on various teams. Agents have become very important in helping their clients continue to have the opportunity to train independently from their teams. More than ever, agents are shelling out money to cover training costs for their clients as they remain locked out of the teams’ gyms and practice facilities.
The same thing is likely to occur in professional basketball. As Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated writes,
Some agents with a longer list of clients have partnerships that will come in handy now, such as Mark Bartelstein with trainer Don Maclean at the 360 Health Club outside Los Angeles and Arn Tellem with trainer Rob McClanahan in Santa Monica. But numerous front-office sources who spoke to SI.com for this story were skeptical that players would be disciplined enough to stay in shape throughout a prolonged lockout.
Certainly agents and agencies with large client lists and expansive bank accounts will be able to front the costs for their rookie clients who need help paying for their training expenses. However, will these agents and agencies provide any assistance for their veteran clients who have already amassed millions of dollars throughout their careers? As we know with the NFL, veterans are not immune to poor spending habits and a need to take out lockout loans. If the same exists for NBA players, expect players to come running to their agents for assistance. If agents are unable or unwilling to help, perhaps we see basketball players start switching agents with the same time of frequency that NFL players have switched this offseason. However, the National Basketball Players Association still exists as a formal union (for the time being) and will certainly be keeping an eye on any agent recruiting of represented players during the lockout.