The NBA is launching an investigation into allegations the Los Angeles Clippers executive Jerry West might have used suspicious methods to help convince Kawhi Leonard to sign with the team in 2019.
More than a year after Leonard signed with the Clippers, with Paul George following behind in a blockbuster trade, the Clippers are under the microscope for how they lured the two-time NBA Finals MVP to Los Angeles.
NBA launches investigation into allegations against Los Angeles Clippers and Kawhi Leonard
According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, the NBA is reportedly launching an inquiry following allegations that Clippers executive board member Jerry West paid someone to help convince Leonard to sign with the club.
The decision comes days after TMZ first reported Johnny Wilkes, the man who claims to have helped the Clippers, is suing West for $2.5 million. In the lawsuit, Wilkes claims that West agreed to pay him $2.5 million to help get Leonard to Los Angeles.
According to the lawsuit, Wilkes met West at the Staples Center in April 2019; he then informed the NBA legend that he had strong ties to Leonard and Dennis Robertson, Leonard’s uncle. He exchanged contact information with West, then met him in June to discuss how he could play a role in the team’s pursuit of Leonard.
In exchange for $2.5 million, which West allegedly agreed to pay, Wilkes would help the Clippers in various ways. He started working to convince Kawhi Leonard and Dennis Robertson that the Clippers were the right spot for them. He informed the Clippers they needed to acquire George and allegedly established contact between West and Robertson.
From there, Wilkes claims he gave the Clippers “vital information” that they used to pitch during their meeting with Leonard. The points were everything that Leonard wanted to hear, per Wilkes, leading to him signing with Los Angeles.
After Leonard signed with the Clippers, Wilkes said he enjoyed a celebratory dinner with West and others in Beverly Hills. He claims West once again agreed to pay $2.5 million, but Wilkes never received the money.
Coming off a disappointing finish in the NBA Playoffs, Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers were certainly hoping to avoid drama for the 2020-’21 NBA season. While nothing may come of the NBA’s investigation, it adds to the drama Los Angeles has gone through since they landed Leonard.