The Los Angeles Clippers and executive Jerry West were hit with a $2.5 million lawsuit this week by Johnny Wilkes, someone who said West and the Clippers hired him to help recruit Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers and be an intermediary to get money to Leonard’s uncle/adviser, Dennis Robertson. Now the NBA is looking into the matter.
After the Clippers exhibition loss to the Jazz Thursday, Leonard shot down the lawsuit’s core idea — that Wilkes influenced his decision at all.
“Not at all,” Leonard said when asked if Wilkes had any influence on his decision. “That has nothing to do with me coming here…
“I’m from LA. I grew up here my whole life. Out here, people try to find any way to get some money. So it probably won’t be the last. I know a lot of people out here.”
Leonard was part of a chorus from the Clippers shooting down the allegations. Jerry West said, “I deny engaging in any improper conduct in connection with the signing of Kawhi Leonard.”
The Clippers said in a statement: “The lawsuit filed by Johnny Wilkes is replete with inaccuracies and the allegations are baseless. The Clippers are fully cooperating with the NBA in its investigation, which is standard when these types of allegations are made. We are providing the NBA with evidence that the allegations are false.”
The rumors about Robertson and/or some around Leonard trying to cash in during his free agency are not new, and there were allegations of salary-cap circumvention. However, there has been no evidence that the Clippers played along with this, and the league did look into it.
The NBA’s investigation and the lawsuit will move forward on their separate tracks, but there may not be much to either of them.