The Los Angeles Clippers currently find themselves in a very dicey situation.
Earlier this week, a man named Johnny Wilkes filed a lawsuit claiming he was promised $2.5 million by Clippers executive Jerry West to help lure Kawhi Leonard to LA.
On Friday, audio emerged of West seemingly leaving a voicemail for Wilkes involving Leonard.
“Hey there, this is Jerry calling,” the man says.
“I really want to thank you a lot for trying to help. I heard this morning that everyone over in the Lakers camp thinks they’re gonna get him.
“I just find it hard to believe that he would want to go to that sh*t show where he would not even be … wouldn’t even get his name in the paper and he wouldn’t be the face of the franchise that’s for sure.”
The Jerry West “voicemail”
Sounds like him, yes? pic.twitter.com/cst7cyok4M
— John Ledesma (@JohnnyNBA) December 18, 2020
After the lawsuit was filed, the NBA announced it would investigate whether anything improper occurred during the Clippers’ recruitment of Leonard.
“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.”
In Wilkes’ lawsuit it is alleged that West and Wilkes met April 10, 2019 inside Staples Center and spoke on June 28, right before free agency commenced.
During the June phone conversation West apparently requested Wilkes’ assistance, according to the lawsuit, which describes Wilkes as “the best friend to Kawhi Leonard’s uncle, Dennis Robertson.”
Wilkes suggests he relayed to West that the team should include four particular pieces of information in its free agency pitch to Leonard: that Leonard would have a “great life as a Clipper,” that the organization “possessed a great deal of upside and would be around for years to come,” that the squad would “do whatever it takes to compete with the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James,” and that it would add a second star.
“This information was vital because it was the exact information that Kawhi Leonard wanted to hear at the time in order to effectuate his signing with the Clippers,” per the lawsuit.
Per the lawsuit, on July 4, Wilkes told Robertson that if Leonard signed with the Clippers, Robertson would get a house in Southern California, a travel expense account and that team owner Steve Ballmer would fund a marketing campaign for Leonard worth $100 million.
When confronted about Tim Duncan’s sexuality, Danny Green kept it real. https://t.co/A2W9DCA1p3
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 18, 2020
Leonard joined the team on July 5.
Leonard, for his part, denies that anything nefarious happened.
“That has nothing to do with me swaying my mind to go somewhere,” he said.
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 17, 2020
“I’m from L.A. and I grew up here my whole life and out here people try to find any way to get some money, so he probably won’t be the last. I know a lot of people out here.”
Obviously nothing has been proven yet, but when there is this much smoke involving a particular situation, there’s usually at least some fire.
How will this situation ultimately play out? Time will tell.