Ron Berkowitz, a spokesman for Jay-Z’s sports agency Roc Nation Sports, confirmed to ESPN.com that, as of this week, Jay-Z is now licensed to work as an NBA agent.
Juan Perez, president of Roc Nation Sports, also is now certified with the National Basketball Players Association.
What’s not clear is how soon Jay-Z can represent players. A source close to the situation said that, as of Wednesday, the hip-hop mogul had not sold his small ownership share (less than 1 percent) of the Brooklyn Nets.
Industry speculation is Jay-Z might be able to sign players as long as he agrees to pass off his share of the Nets in the near future. Owners of NBA teams cannot represent players.
Since announcing his intention to start a sports agency a few months ago, Jay-Z’s firm has signed New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith and former Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins, who recently was selected third by the Tulsa Shock in the WNBA draft.
The first NBA player Jay-Z is expected to sign is Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, who told his agent, Rob Pelinka, in recent days that he would sign with Jay-Z. Durant has not commented publicly.
Roc Nation partnered with Creative Artists Agency to do Cano’s contract negotiations since the company doesn’t have an MLB agent on its roster. Smith’s contract will be negotiated by Kim Miale, Roc Nation’s new NFL agent who has very little experience.
On Wednesday, NFLPA officials met with Miale to determine if Jay-Z, who is still not certified with the NFL, violated the union’s “runner rule.” The rule says that anyone who is not certified cannot recruit players, yet Smith, the Jets’ rookie backup quarterback, tweeted a picture of himself sitting in the same room with Jay-Z. The outcome of the meeting between the NFLPA and Miale is not known.
While Roc Nation has not confirmed that it has signed New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who accepted a one-year free-agent tender offer of $2.879 million last week, a deal appears close. Cruz took pictures with Jay-Z, Cano and Smith at a party Monday in Manhattan to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Jay-Z’s 40/40 sports bar.
It just might be that Roc Nation and CAA, whose agents have said Cruz was steered to them by Jay-Z, will have a partnership just like they have for the baseball deal with Cano.