Apparently, the Los Angeles Clippers‘ brain trust and longtime NBA executive Jerry West are not responsible for bringing Kawhi Leonard to Hollywood. Or so says one Johnny Wilkes.
Wilkes is suing West for $2.5 million on the grounds he was the most significant influencer in helping the Clippers sign Leonard in the summer of 2019, per TMZ.
Wilkes states he informed West of his relationship with Kawhi’s uncle, Dennis, and was eventually asked to recruit Leonard to LA:
In the suit, Wilkes claims he told West he’d only help if the Clippers would pay him $2.5 MILLION … and Wilkes claims West agreed to the terms.
Wilkes says in the lawsuit he “immediately went to work” … and began convincing Kawhi and Kawhi’s uncle the Clippers were the right team for him after he had just left the Toronto Raptors.
Wilkes says he told West and the Clippers they needed to get Paul George first and foremost to hook Kawhi. He then says he helped connect West with Kawhi’s uncle.
Wilkes also claims in the suit he gave West a specific gameplan for how the Clippers should pitch Kawhi during an important meeting with West, Leonard, Doc Rivers and others in July 2019.
Wilkes also goes on to claim he had a “celebratory meal” with members of the Clippers’ front office after the deal was consummated.Uncle Dennis plays a fairly prominent role in Leonard’s business dealings, so it stands to reason a relationship with him could help recruitment.
That said, West is one of the best recruiters in league history, having convinced the likes of Shaquille O’Neal to join the Los Angeles Lakers in the late 1990s and also helping to orchestrate Kevin Durant’s signing with the Golden State Warriors in 2016.
In any event, Wilkes feels he is owed a certain comeuppance.