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The Grizzlies Cave In To Pressure. Will It Affect Other Teams?

No more ragging on the Memphis Grizzlies…for now.  Last week the Grizz finally came to terms with first-round selections Xavier Henry and Greivis Vasquez.  No training camp missed.  No harm, no foul, right?  That’s true to an extent.  The players shouldn’t suffer.  They ended up with the historically agreed upon rookie contract of 120% of the league’s rookie salary scale, after the Grizz did not want to give up more than 100% of the rookie salary scale and make the rookies “earn” the additional 20% through performance bonuses.  Their agents won’t suffer either.  Henry’s agent, Arn Tellem, said the following:

“I assured the Grizzlies that I wouldn’t yield to pressure. I also informed them that to take any pressure off Xavier, I would pay his salary myself if a deal couldn’t be reached.”

That is quite a bold statement for an agent to make, and speaks to the type of person Arn Tellem is.  At the same time, he is blessed to be surrounded by people and a company (Wasserman Media Group) with deep pockets, so when he makes that kind of claim, he can back it up.  Not many of his competitors could or would do the same.  Henry noticed that and showed his appreciation.

“My agency was behind me, and they were fighting for me.  My agent took a step forward and said if they weren’t willing to cooperate then we were prepared to go as far as we needed on principle. … But I’m ready. I’ve been ready for a while. I’m anxious to play.”

Tellem won’t have to spend any of that money, though.  So who might suffer the most out of all of this?  How about a team that had zero involvement in the entire matter?  The San Antonio Spurs have bucked the trend of throwing 120% to rookies for a long time.  The Spurs load up their rookie contracts with performance bonuses, which if reached, don’t always pay the players the 120% slot ceiling.  Will the battle won by Arn Tellem change things for the Spurs?  They have been extremely quiet over the years regarding their rookie contracts.  Will they now be under the radar.  Will an agent step up and challenge them next year on a rookie deal?

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.