The NBA is opening an investigation into how the Los Angeles Clippers and team consultant Jerry West recruited Kawhi Leonard during the 2019 offseason.

The league is investigating the recruitment done by West after he and the Clippers are being sued by Johnny Wilkes, a man who claimed that he is a close friend to Leonard and is best friends with Leonard’s uncle Dennis Robertson. Robertson filed a lawsuit against the team and West because he is owed $2.5 million from an oral agreement made with West after helping them land Leonard.

The plaintiff Wilkes alleged that in April 2019 that he had informed West that he is best friend with Robertson and could help provide vital information to sign the All-Star during the 2019 offseason. He would help them on the condition that he would be paid $2.5 million for his service. The plaintiff alleged that West agreed verbally to the deal.

The lawsuit adds that Wilkes was informed that he told a man named Sam Watson “that the Clippers needed to sign Paul George in order to get Kawhi Leonard to sign.” Furthermore, the lawsuit adds that the plaintiff told what the Clippers and West needed to say and empathize in their pitch to the former two-time NBA Champion. The plaintiff goes on to allege that he told the team and team consultant that they needed to provide Leonard’s uncle a home, travel expense, and the Clipper’s owner Steve Ballmer had to fund a $100 million campaign to sign the All-Star.

This lawsuit and the allegations prompted the league to investigate on the basis of the NBA Constitution’s Article 35A (3) which is known as “Other Indirect Contact.” According to the NBA Constitution, it “prohibits indirect communications, such as those made through intermediaries.” If the Clippers are found to have violated the clase, then they could face a hefty $10 million fine and lose draft picks.

 

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