Kawhi Leonard has been a member of the Los Angeles Clippers for months, but the days of hearing about his free agency last summer are likely nowhere close to done.
With the Clippers’ marquee game against the Los Angeles Lakers on tap for Christmas, The Athletic’s Sam Amick reports that complaints about the handling of Leonard’s free agency by his camp — specifically his uncle Dennis Robertson — triggered an NBA investigation.
The complaints reportedly alleged that Robertson asked for several improper benefits during free -agency negotiations. The investigation reportedly found no evidence indicating that the Clippers granted such requests, but the league could re-open the investigation if any evidence surfaces.
What did Uncle Dennis reportedly request for Kawhi?
The reported requests from Robertson are quite something. From The Athletic:
Sources say the league was told that Robertson asked team officials for part ownership of the team, a private plane that would be available at all times, a house and — last but certainly not least — a guaranteed amount of off-court endorsement money that they could expect if Leonard played for their team. All of those items, to be clear, would fall well outside the confines of the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
The Athletic reports that Robertson made those requests repeatedly to Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, who told him that such benefits are illegal. Similar requests were reportedly made to the Toronto Raptors, the other contender for Leonard’s services.
The NBA would significantly beef up its tampering and free-agent rules months later.
Obviously, it’s logical that Robertson could have done the same with the Clippers, but there is apparently no evidence that the team landed Leonard by granting them. Trading for Paul George alongside a core that actually made the Western Conference playoffs last year might have been the bigger perk to land Leonard.
Whatever did happen, it’s very clear that the Lakers are less than pleased with how Leonard handled negotiations with them, and that the Clippers-Lakers rivalry is set up to be a major storyline this season and beyond.
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