Kawhi Leonard doesn’t expect the current allegations regarding his recruitment to the Los Angeles Clippers to be the last.
Leonard, whose 2019 free agency is the subject of a new NBA investigation, denied a claim by Johnny Wilkes that Wilkes helped recruit the star to L.A. and is owed $2.5 million for it by Clippers advisor Jerry West.
Leonard denies recruitment claims
Leonard addressed the claim and NBA news of an investigation after the Clippers preseason game on Thursday night.
“Not at all. 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. It probably won’t be the last. I know a lot of people out here.”
Kawhi Leonard shuts down the Johnny Wilkes rumors. pic.twitter.com/mg0sxlRXfa
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) December 18, 2020
“Not at all. That has nothing to do with me. Nobody swayed my mind to go [to the Clippers].
“I’m from L.A. I grew up here my whole life. Out here, people try to find any way to get some money. It probably won’t be the last. I know a lot of people out here.”
Leonard chose the Clippers in free agency over the Los Angeles Lakers and the Toronto Raptors, where he won the 2019 NBA title. The star grew up in L.A. and attended San Diego State.
NBA investigating claim Jerry West owes man $2.5M
Johnny Wilkes filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the Clippers and West claiming the team owes him $2.5 million. He said it was part of an oral agreement for his work recruiting the star. The documents were obtained by TMZ Sports.
Wilkes said in the lawsuit he met West at Staples Center in April 2019 and claimed that he was close with Leonard’s uncle Dennis Robertson (aka “Uncle Dennis”), so he could help the team get the star in free agency.
Among various claims in the lawsuit, Wilkes said he was vital to the Clippers landing Leonard and advised the team to trade for Paul George to entice him.
NBA to investigate; Clippers deny claims
The NBA is investigating the claims, the Clippers announced late Thursday. The league constitution “prohibits indirect communications, such as those made through intermediaries,” per ESPN. The team could be fined as much as $10 million and lose draft picks.
The Clippers denied the claims 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. They are providing the NBA with evidence that the allegations are false.”
In a statement to TMZ, West said he was not aware of any lawsuit and “I deny engaging in any improper conduct in connection with the signing of Kawhi Leonard.”
The NBA investigated Leonard’s free agency in 2019 and reportedly found that the team did not provide improper benefits that would qualify as tampering. The Clippers begin their 2020-21 campaign on Tuesday.
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