NBA investigates Clippers over claims that Jerry West offered $ 2.5 million to Kawhi Leonard’s friend, according to report

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers Press Conference

NBA is investigating allegations that Los Angeles Clippers executive Jerry West has offered to pay Johnny Wilkes, a friend of Kawhi Leonard, $ 2.5 million to provide the MVP team with the 2019 Finals free agency. , according to Marc Stein in the New York Times. On Monday, TMZ reported that Wilkes is suing West for alleged failure to make that $ 2.5 million pledge in exchange for his help securing Kawhi.

The Clippers strongly denied the allegations against West. “The lawsuit filed by Johnny Wilkes is full of inaccuracies and the allegations are unfounded,” the team wrote in a statement. “The Clippers are fully cooperating with the NBA in its investigation, which is standard when making these types of allegations.” They added that the NBA is providing evidence that the allegations are false.

It’s not the first time the Clippers have been investigated over the events and allegations surrounding Leonard’s free agency. During the 2019-20 season, Sam Amick from Athletic reported that Leonard’s uncle, Dennis Robertson, was investigated for demanding inappropriate benefits from teams trying to sign the superstar. No wrongdoing was found, but reports said the league would resume the investigation if it changed.

There is no precedent for the league to find evidence of such an illegal recruitment tactic. The closest example would probably be Joe Smith’s illegal contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1998. The league found that Smith took a contract below market value to join a Timberwolves team that otherwise would not have had the maximum space to sign him. knowing he could sign a more profitable business later using Bird Rights. The NBA stripped the Timberwolves of four first-round picks as a result and effectively suspended both owner Glen Taylor and general manager Kevin McHale.

This would be another kind of violation, but one that is no less severe if it proves to be true. For now, however, there is no evidence to indicate an injustice on the part of the Clippers.