The NBA Players Association has sent a memo to its players that Andy Miller, the president of ASM Sports and the high-profile agent for NBA stars like Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Lowry, has relinquished his agent certification, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
A day after the FBI reported its findings and arrested 10 people involved in the bribery scandal that rocked college basketball in September, the offices of ASM sports were reportedly raided by the FBI, and Miller’s computer was taken. In the two months since, Miller lost five clients. Now, he’s giving up the right to represent any of them.
Let’s unpack this, FAQ-style.
Who is Andy Miller?
Miller is (was?) one of the most prominent agents in the NBA. In addition to once representing Kevin Garnett, Miller represented 22 active players in the league, as well as a slew of free agents. His client list spans from Porzingis and the Raptors’ Serge Ibaka to Nuggets rookie Malik Beasley and the Pacers’ Myles Turner.
As Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel and Pat Forde pointed out in a detailed profile of Miller in November, Miller was described as “the NBA agent version of television alphas Tony Soprano and Frank Underwood” by a business associate in regard to his approach to dealings. In 2002, Miller had to pay out $4.6 million in legal damages after taking top clients, including Garnett, from Eric Fleisher, his previous employer.
Miller also sponsors a grassroots basketball team that, in the aforementioned Yahoo story, is described as Miller’s own farm system.
How is this connected to the Adidas scandal?
The FBI report that emerged from its sting operation includes references to a “Sports Management Company-1.” The veil was quickly lifted when ASM Sports was raided by the FBI.
According to the FBI, there were illegal kickbacks between shoe companies (with all signs pointing to Adidas), coaches, and players and their families in order to assure players would be funneled to specific colleges or sign with a specific shoe company or agent. The scandal implicated recruits, current players—most of whom haven’t been able to play this season—and the programs themselves.
One of those 10 people arrested was ASM employee Christian Dawkins. Dawkins reportedly became the middleman between Miller and the recruits. As reported in the Yahoo story, Dawkins would cultivate relationships with recruits on behalf of Miller, and continued to do so even after Miller fired him for charging more than $40,000 in Uber rides on the credit card of Orlando Magic point guard Elfrid Payton without his permission.
Miller also has a known connection to Adidas. Miller has represented 12 top-16 picks, and eight of them have signed Adidas deals, including Lowry and Porzingis. The Yahoo report referred to the seized computer and documents as Miller’s “recruitment playbook.”
So, what will happen to Miller’s clients?
Despite Miller’s abrupt resignation from NBA player representation, “many” of his former clients are “expected to remain with other agents in the company,” according to ESPN.
Players currently on the ASM roster will now have to weigh leaving or sticking with an agency without its namesake (at least for NBA negotiations). Porzingis, for example, is eligible for a rookie extension this summer. So is Turner. Dwight Howard will once again be a free agent in 2019.
Where does this go next?
This is not just an Adidas or an Andy Miller problem. In September, Nike’s own youth league, EYBL, was also subpoenaed by the FBI. EYBL is widely viewed as one of the premier travel leagues in the country. That part of the investigation has yet to yield any further reports or arrests, but even more teams, players, and power brokers could come into question. Soon after the initial scandal broke, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told The Vertical that her office was going to look into the connections between those named in the FBI’s report and NBA players.
More, not less, money is being poured into basketball these days. This doesn’t appear to be an issue that will just go away.
Wait, remind me. Do college athletes get paid?