Ashley Landis / Associated Press
The NBA has opened an investigation into the Los Angeles Clippers following a story from TMZ Sports into the circumstances surrounding Kawhi Leonard’s decision to join the team, according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick.
TMZ Sports reported on Monday that Johnny Wilkes has filed a lawsuit against Jerry West, who has an executive role with the Clippers, alleging he was supposed to be paid $ 2.5 million for helping push Leonard towards the franchise:
Wilkes said in the lawsuit that he ‘immediately went to work’… and began to convince Kawhi and Kawhi’s uncle, the Clippers, were the right team for him after he had just left the Toronto Raptors.
“Wilkes says he told West and the Clippers that first and foremost they need to get Paul George to hang Kawhi. He then says he helped connect West with Kawhi’s uncle.
“Wilkes also claims in the suit that he gave West a specific game plan on how the Clippers should present Kawhi at an important meeting with West, Leonard, Doc Rivers and others in July 2019.”
West replied to TMZ Sports, “I am not aware of any lawsuits brought against me and I deny engaging in improper conduct in connection with the signing of Kawhi Leonard. “
This isn’t the first time the NBA has looked at Leonard’s signing by the Clippers ahead of the 2019-20 season, with concerns centered on Leonard’s uncle Dennis Robertson.
Amick reported in December 2019 that the league “conducted a formal investigation of the Clippers last summer after complaints surfaced that Robertson sought improper benefits during the free agency process.”
Among the things Robertson requested was a house, the on-demand use of a private plane, and a stake in the franchise that Leonard signed on to.
According to Amick, Robertson approached the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors with the demands, raising questions about how far the Clippers traveled to secure his signing. The NBA found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Leonard put pen on paper on a three year contract worth $ 103.1 million, and he can retire after this season.
The NBA bare the Minnesota Timberwolves were five first-round picks in 2000 when they bent league rules to sign Joe Smith.
If the Clippers did anything wrong with Leonard, they could face an even greater penalty considering that Commissioner Adam Silver has stressed the importance to follow anti-forgery laws.