Does Jerry West strike you as the kind of executive who would pay off associates of a star player to help him recruit said player? Would Jerry West do something like that in a way that would leave him exposed to a lawsuit?
A new civil suit filed against West and the Clippers claims exactly that — and the person wants his $2.5 million. The Clippers may be able to blow off the lawsuit, but now the NBA is doing its own investigation of the matter, reports Marc Stein of the New York Times.
Jerry West denied the allegations to TMZ Sports.
“I deny engaging in any improper conduct in connection with the signing of Kawhi Leonard.”
The Clippers released a statement also denying the charges.
“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. We are providing the NBA with evidence that the allegations are false.”
During Leonard’s recruitment by the Clippers, Lakers, Raptors, and others in the summer of 2019, there were allegations of salary-cap circumvention and plenty of buzz Leonard’s associates asking for perks. There has been zero evidence the Clippers provided any of those perks and payments, but this new lawsuit stirs up the talk again, and maybe the plaintiff in the civil lawsuit has real evidence. Maybe not. That’s why the NBA is looking into it.
If the NBA finds anything concrete the punishment for the Clippers would be severe. However, this feels more like a money grab than reality. The courts and the league office will get to sort that out.