LeBron James switches agents; childhood friend will represent him

LeBron James has parted ways with agent Leon Rose of Creative Artists Agency and will now be represented by his longtime friend, Rich Paul, who also has left CAA to start his own company: Klutch Sports Management, sources told Yahoo! Sports. James made the move official when he filed paperwork with the NBA Players' Association Wednesday afternoon.

Paul will be James' third representative since James entered the league in 2003 as a client of Aaron Goodwin.

Paul began working for CAA in 2008. Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson and San Antonio Spurs guard Cory Joseph are among his clients, along with Charlotte Bobcats rookie forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who is jointly managed by Paul and Rose. Paul is working to soon become officially certified as an agent. His new agency will be based in his hometown of Cleveland, where James played for the Cavaliers from 2003-2010.

James left CAA and Rose amicably and wants to give Paul an opportunity to represent him after he gained needed experience, sources said.

Clippers guard Chris Paul is still represented by CAA, but is close with James and Rich Paul. Chris Paul will likely be a free agent next summer. Other NBA standouts represented by CAA include Heat guard Dwyane Wade, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, Heat forward Chris Bosh and San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker.

[Related: Does James' move bode ill for CAA's future influence?]

James, Paul, Maverick Carter and Randy Mims are childhood friends who have long called themselves "The Four Horsemen." After James fired Goodwin and joined CAA, they started a management group called LRMR, which heads James' sports portfolio and is led by Carter.

Rose primarily managed James' playing contract which still has $73.9 million over four years remaining but also has player opt-outs in 2014 and 2015. Seven years after LRMR's formation, James now ranks fourth on Forbes' list of richest athletes after making $53 million from June 2011 to June 2012.

"Being young and black and going into a business where you are trying to establish position and where you are able to make business decisions with the lack of what people would call an education, not having a degree … no one wanted to give us a chance," Rich Paul told Yahoo! Sports in June. "We were able to come through that and learn from a lot of people that we had around us and position ourselves to be, not necessarily just successful economically, but successful from a positioning standpoint to have a bright future.

[Also: The Kings' Tyreke Evans still hopes to live up to his potential]

"It was a rough situation. But given the opportunity [James] gave all of us, it's a blessing. It was up to us to cultivate that blessing and move forward."

James declined comment through his spokesperson. Rich Paul declined comment. Rose could not be reached for comment.

Sports Business Journal was the first to report James' departure from Rose.

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