A judge has ruled against Detroit Pistons center Nerlens Noel's $58 million lawsuit against his former agent Rich Paul going forward, but that won't be the end of the dispute.
According to Sports Business Journal's Liz Mullen, Dallas-based district court judge Jane J. Boyle dismissed the lawsuit after determining "a valid, enforceable agreement to arbitrate exists between the parties."
The legal battle will reportedly now head to the National Basketball Players Association's arbitration system to be resolved.
Noel originally filed his lawsuit in Aug. 2021, alleging that Paul's failed promises and professional negligence had cost him up to $58 million in lost contract money. Noel hired Paul, who represents LeBron James and many other NBA stars, as his agent in 2017 after Paul allegedly convinced him to reject a four-year, $70 million extension offer from the Dallas Mavericks.
Convinced he could get a max contract, Noel played the following season on a $4.1 million qualifying offer, but was hampered by injuries during the worst season of his career. Noel never came close to max money while represented by Paul, whom Noel claims "began to lose interest" in him after that disappointing season.
The lawsuit painted a curious picture of Noel's representation over the next three years, as the player claims he was told multiple teams expressed interest in him as a free agent but never had their calls returned by Paul.
The $58 million figure is apparently the differential between that $70 million offer and what Noel actually earned while represented by Paul. Noel fired Paul in 2020 and subsequently got the richest deal of his career, a three-year, $32 million contract with the New York Knicks in 2020.
The Knicks traded Noel to the Detroit Pistons in a salary cap-clearing move this offseason.