Man suing Clippers and Jerry West wanted much more than $2.5 million for supposedly luring Kawhi Leonard
The Los Angeles Clippers are reportedly moving to dismiss the breach of contract lawsuit filed against them and executive Jerry West, and they're revealing exactly what Johnny Wilkes demanded in return for help luring Kawhi Leonard.
The Clippers' legal team filed a document in Los Angeles County Superior Court last week as part of a motion to dismiss all counts of Wilkes' lawsuit, according to The Los Angeles Times' Nathan Fenno and Andrew Greif. Included in the document is a letter adding some clarity to how Wilkes reportedly approached West and his demands.
Wilkes, who reportedly claims to be the best friend of Leonard's uncle Dennis Robertson, lays out how he supposedly pushed Leonard to sign with the Clippers in the letter, which was apparently presented to West two weeks after Leonard joined the Clippers.
In the letter rife with spelling errors, Wilkes claims to have spent $200,000 on travel expenses to pursue networking opportunities, all part of a "Bring Kawi [sic] Home" initiative. In exchange for the plan's apparent success, Wilkes demanded a $2.5 million cash injection — equivalent to the commission of an NBA agent — as well as a job with the Clippers and several other perks.
Here's the letter's "Summary of Requests." It is a doozy:
• Johnny Wileks [sic] receives $2.5 Million through a non-profit or trust
• Johnny Wileks [sic] becomes vice president of LA Clippers Special Events with a 5-year contract
• Re-Brand and implement 2020 Clutch Program
• Minority-Owned security company gets a contract with the LA Clippers
• Ability to recommend 3 players annually to G League
• Recommends coaches for hire in the G League
• Access to 4 court side seats and a skybox for business guests
• Implementation of the LA Clippers Healthy Meals Program
It is unclear how Wilkes planned to maximize the utility of both courtside and skybox seats for networking while also juggling his de facto control of the Agua Caliente Clippers, but, hey, shoot your shot.
The Clippers also included some snippets of a deposition with Wilkes, in which the "agent" had some trouble explaining how he pitched his services to West:
Q. Just so I'm clear, as far as your understanding, what did you think Jerry West was going to be paying $2.5 million for?
A. For my help trying to get Kawhi Leonard to sign with the Clippers.
Q. Just so I'm clear, in terms of help, had you told Jerry West that you were going to to do anything?
A. You have to understand —
Q. I don't have to understand anything. I'm asking you to listen to my question and answer my question. Did you tell Jerry West that you would do anything for $2.5 million?
A. At that time, no.
Wilkes also reportedly claimed to have communicated with West through boxing promoter Sam Watson and broadcaster Jim Gray, and didn't claim to provide any information on how to sign Leonard beyond talking points for the team's free agent pitch. Those talking points reportedly included talking about how joining the Clippers would benefit Leonard's career and life after basketball.
Wilkes' lawsuit, filed in late 2020, claimed he was owed $2.5 million from West in exchange for his services in luring Leonard. The Times reports the lawsuit claims Wilkes told Robertson that he would receive a house in Southern California, a travel expense account and a $100 million marketing campaign for Leonard funded by team owner Steve Ballmer.
The lawsuit triggered an investigation from the NBA, which has looked into the Clippers' signing of Leonard in the past (particularly Robertson's demands for off-the-table perks), and a stern denial from the team.
From the Times:
“This lawsuit is a classic attempt at a shakedown,” the motion by attorney Duane R. Lyons on behalf of the Clippers and West said. “Plaintiff does not allege that he is Kawhi Leonard’s agent or that he represented Mr. Leonard in any capacity. Nor does he allege that he even spoke to Kawhi Leonard about the Clippers. Yet, he seeks a payment commensurate with a fee that Kawhi Leonard’s true NBA agent might have earned.”
The filing alleged Wilkes was “desperate in an attempt to cash in on a distant connection” to Leonard and noted the list of requests doesn’t mention any agreement between Wilkes and the Clippers or West.
Leonard and West both denied Wilkes' involvement at the time of the lawsuit's filing.
“Not at all. That has nothing to do with me coming here... I’m from LA. I grew up here my whole life. Out here, people try to find any way to get some money. It probably won’t be the last. I know a lot of people out here.”
Kawhi Leonard shuts down the Johnny Wilkes rumors. pic.twitter.com/mg0sxlRXfa
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) December 18, 2020
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