The NBA is looking into allegations that Los Angeles Clippers team consultant Jerry West agreed to pay millions to a man for his help in getting Kawhi Leonard to sign with the team in 2019.
In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court against West and the Clippers, Johnny Wilkes alleges the NBA executive owes him $2.5 million for assisting with the free-agency recruitment of Leonard two summers ago.
Wilkes, who says he is close to the NBA All-Star and best friends with Kawhi’s uncle Dennis Robertson, alleges West agreed to the fee in an oral agreement.
Among other claims made in the lawsuit, Wilkes alleges West and the Clippers told him to tell Robertson that if the 29-year-old signed with the Clippers, Leonard’s uncle would “receive a house in Southern California” and that team owner Steve Ballmer would “fund a $100,000,000.00 marketing campaign for Kawhi Leonard,” according to ESPN.
“The lawsuit filed by Johnny Wilkes is replete with inaccuracies and the allegations are baseless,” the Clippers said in a statement. “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.”
Following a preseason game on Thursday night, Leonard also denied Wilkes was involved with his decision to ink a deal with LA.
“That has nothing to do with me coming here,” Leonard said. “I’m from L.A. 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.”
A rep for West previously told TMZ Sports the longtime basketball exec did nothing wrong. “I am not aware of any lawsuit being filed against me and I deny engaging in any improper conduct in connection with the signing of Kawhi Leonard,” West said via his representative.