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#pounditThursday, May 13, 2021

Articles tagged: Kawhi Leonard

NBA investigating Jerry West lawsuit about Kawhi Leonard recruitment

Jerry West

The NBA has launched an investigation into a lawsuit alleging Jerry West was involved in improper conduct surrounding the Los Angeles Clippers’ recruitment of Kawhi Leonard.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the NBA has launched an investigation of the Clippers based on the allegations made in a new lawsuit. The suit, filed by an alleged associate of Leonard’s family, claims West promised a $2.5 million payment for successful recruitment of Leonard to the Clippers, and then failed to follow through. You can read the full details of the allegations by clicking here.

The NBA has clearly deemed the allegations serious and credible enough to warrant an investigation. If found to be true, both West and the Clippers would be subject to significant league discipline, as this would be a clear violation of league rules. West has previously denied any wrongdoing in a statement through one of his representatives.

Leonard’s recruitment was the subject of a different NBA investigation as well, though nothing has come of that to date.

Kawhi Leonard denies hilarious story about eating apples at team dinner

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard is arguably the most mysterious superstar in sports, but unfortunately one of the most entertaining stories we have ever heard about the two-time NBA Finals MVP is not true.

Leonard is an unusual guy, and one rumor that illustrated that perfectly was about the time he supposedly brought a dozen apples to a San Antonio Spurs team dinner. The story was that Leonard pulled out 12 apples and started eating them with a fork and knife rather than ordering a meal.

Leonard was asked about the apple story during an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” that aired on Wednesday night. He could only shake his head and laugh, but needless to say he denied it.

The fact that anyone believed the apple story shows how different Leonard is. If someone said LeBron James whipped out a dozen apples at a team dinner, we’d all know it was a joke. With Kawhi, you can never be sure.

Leonard seemed to be in great spirits during the appearance despite the Los Angeles Clippers’ disappointing finish last season. That may have something to do with what we recently heard about the team’s locker room atmosphere.

Clippers fans, show everyone who runs Los Angeles with this great “We Run LA” shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here:

Jerry West sued by man who says he helped bring Kawhi Leonard to Clippers

Jerry West

A man who claims he played a major role in Kawhi Leonard signing with the Los Angeles Clippers is suing team executive Jerry West for an enormous sum of money.

In the lawsuit, which was obtained by TMZ, a man named Johnny Wilkes claims he worked with West to help convince Leonard to sign with the Clippers as a free agent last year. Wilkes says he met with West at Staples Center on April 10, 2019 and informed the 82-year-old that he had close ties to Leonard and Leonard’s uncle and business manager, Dennis Robertson. Wilkes claims he and West exchanged contact information at the meeting.

According to Wilkes, West contacted him in June and asked for help with recruiting Leonard. Wilkes says West agreed to pay him $2.5 million if he successfully helped deliver Leonard to the Clippers. Wilkes says he is the one that informed the Clippers they needed to acquire Paul George and that he gave West, Doc Rivers and others a specific plan for their pitch meeting with Leonard.

“This information was vital because it was the exact information Kawhi Leonard wanted to hear at the time in order to effectuate his signing with the Clippers,” Wilkes claimed in the lawsuit.

After Leonard signed with L.A., Wilkes says he attended a celebratory dinner with West and others in Beverly Hills. West allegedly reassured Wilkes during the dinner that he is going to pay him $2.5 million for his assistance, but Wilkes says he has not been paid. He is seeking $2.5 million plus damages.

If Wilkes really was the driving force behind Leonard signing with the Clippers, we know a few people who would like a word with him.

Clippers fans, show everyone who runs Los Angeles with this great “We Run LA” shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here:

Paul George weighs in on Kawhi Leonard’s long-term future with Clippers

Paul George

Paul George has committed long-term to the Los Angeles Clippers, and he’s hoping that might push Kawhi Leonard to do the same.

George and Leonard both previously had player options for 2021-22, but George opted to sign a five-year maximum extension with the Clippers. Leonard’s long-term status is still pending, but George made it clear he’d consulted with Leonard before signing his deal.

“I’m hopeful,” George said of Leonard’s long-term future with the Clippers, via Mark Medina of USA Today. “He’s one of the guys I talked and informed this is a decision I wanted to make and be long term.

“What I would love is to play with him for the rest of his contract. It’s Kawhi’s decision.”

George had a lot of financial reasons to sign this deal. One wonders how Leonard is feeling about his future, though. He’s more tight-lipped than George, but was also the one who put the entire process of playing with George in motion. Only time will tell, but the Clippers would certainly love to keep both.

Clippers fans, show everyone who runs Los Angeles with this great “We Run LA” shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here:

Serge Ibaka tells funny story about Kawhi Leonard recruiting him to Clippers

Serge Ibaka

Kawhi Leonard apparently lured his former teammate to the LA Clippers in typical Fun Guy fashion.

Veteran big man Serge Ibaka spoke with the media on Thursday for the first time as a Clipper. He told a funny story about how Leonard, his old teammate with the Toronto Raptors, recruited him to the team.

“You guys know him, right?” said Ibaka, per Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints. “‘Hey, what’s up?’ That’s what Kawhi text[ed] me … I said, ‘What’s up bro? I’m on vacation.’ ‘Ah cool.’ A little bit later. ‘Bro, are you coming or no?’ Just picture Kawhi and his voice. It was funny. ‘Bro, are we doing it or no?’ It was really funny. I know him, so that’s how always we communicate. When he says, ‘What’s up?’ I already know what he means.”

Ibaka, the former All-Defensive First Teamer, signed a two-year, $15 million with the Clippers this offseason. He won an NBA title with Leonard on the Raptors in 2019.

The two players have shared some funny moments together in the past. The hope will be that the Ibaka-Leonard friendship can bring some positive energy to a Clippers locker room that is sorely in need of it.

Report: Clippers didn’t respect Paul George as much as Kawhi Leonard

Paul George

The Los Angeles Clippers openly acknowledged that chemistry issues contributed to their disappointing early exit from the NBA playoffs, and we are starting to learn more about those locker room problems.

Jovan Buhan published an outstanding feature for The Athletic this week that examined what went wrong with the 2019-20 Clippers. In it, Buhan detailed how Kawhi Leonard and Paul George received preferential treatment, which was a big change from the structure the 2018-19 Clippers were accustomed to as a group of overachieving players without any real star power.

Before every game last season, the Clippers’ training staff spent roughly 20 to 45 minutes creating a private space for Leonard to go through his pregame routine. That private space reportedly occupied the female staffers’ locker room at times both on the road and at Staples Center, which made some Clippers players and staffers “uneasy.”

While the treatment Leonard received was clearly excessive at times, Buhan says his teammates largely accepted it because Kawhi is a two-time NBA champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP. George also received some preferential treatment with regard to practice schedules and time off, but Clippers players did not view it the same way. Multiple sources told Buhan that George’s teammates had a, “What have you accomplished in the playoffs?” attitude toward him.

The entire feature is worth reading, as it provides incredible detail about the road leading up to an early Orlando exit and Doc Rivers leaving the Clippers.

George is obviously a phenomenal player, but you need look no further than his playoff elimination game stats to know how he has struggled in the postseason. Leonard, on the other hand, has carried multiple teams to titles. You can understand why teammates did not view them as being on equal ground.

Kawhi Leonard sent gift to big Laker fan Snoop Dogg

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard is extending an olive branch to Snoop Dogg in the form of some free swag.

The LA Clippers star Leonard sent the famous rapper several pairs of New Balance shoes this week. Snoop is a big supporter of the Los Angeles Lakers and clowned Clipper fans Marcellus Wiley and “Clipper Darrell” over the gift from Leonard. Here is the video (but beware of the foul language):

Snoop is one of the most vocal supporters of the rival Lakers, who surpassed the Clippers to win the NBA championship this year. That makes the gift from Leonard a fairly unexpected development.

That said, Leonard has hooked up other members of the Lakers camp with free New Balance gear before, so perhaps this isn’t entirely surprising.

Tyronn Lue reconsidering Kawhi Leonard’s load management plan for next season?

Kawhi Leonard

The LA Clippers need to rethink their approach for next season, and new head coach Tyronn Lue may have an idea of where to start.

Lue addressed star player Kawhi Leonard’s load management program on Wednesday. Lue said that he will have a talk with the performance staff and medical team as to whether the program will be implemented again next season, per Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints.

Leonard, who suffers from chronic tendinopathy in his quadriceps, missed 15 games for the Clippers last season. The load management did help keep him healthy. But it also came at the cost of developing on-court chemistry with his new teammates. That seemed to be a primary driving force behind the Clippers’ embarrassing second-round collapse to the Denver Nuggets.

One report had recently suggested that other Clippers were put off by the perceived special treatment for Leonard, including his load management program (though that has been disputed by one player). Regardless though, Lue probably does need to come up with a better way to manage Leonard’s health while also not compromising the Clippers’ team-building process.

Kawhi Leonard has clamored for Clippers to sign point guard?

Kawhi Leonard

The Los Angeles Clippers proved they are far from flawless with their disappointing early exit in the playoffs, and Kawhi Leonard apparently has some ideas on how they can fix things heading into next season. One of them is to add more backcourt help.

Leonard has privately told people that he wants the Clippers to add a point guard this offseason, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on “First Take” this week. The Clippers have Patrick Beverley, but Smith says Leonard is hoping for a point guard “who can run a team and can shoot.”

“They clearly need a point guard. Everybody knows it and Kawhi Leonard privately has clamored for one,” Smith said. “It’s not that he wants them to get rid of Patrick Beverley, but Patrick Beverley is basically a defensive ace who’s small and has to play opposing guards. They need a point guard who can run a team and can shoot.”

That will not be easy to find, especially after the Clippers gave up multiple first-round picks to acquire Paul George last offseason. Reggie Jackson can score, but Leonard likely wants a much better starting-caliber player.

Of course, many have pointed out that Leonard played with an elite point guard in Kyle Lowry, but Kawhi chose not to re-sign with the Toronto Raptors. The Clippers may now have to get creative to keep Leonard satisfied. There is at least one star point guard who is said to be on the trade market, but there are several reasons why him winding up in L.A. is highly unlikely.

Lou Williams fires back at Kawhi Leonard special treatment report

Lou Williams

Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams had something to say about a report claiming he and his teammates took issue with the team’s treatment of Kawhi Leonard.

A report by The Athletic Thursday that Clipper veterans such as Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Patrick Beverley “bristled” at preferential treatment Leonard received from the team. You can read that report here.

On Friday, Williams fired back on social media. He said in an Instagram comment that he didn’t even know what “bristle” meant, and called on The Athletic reporter Jovan Buha to reveal his source.

Reports about Leonard’s special treatment alienating his teammates persisted for much of the season. Players had a similar response to previous reports. The fact that it kept coming up indicates that there was probably something to it, though. That’s especially true when multiple players confirmed that the team wasn’t as solid of a unit as it could have been.

Clippers fans, show everyone who runs Los Angeles with this great “We Run LA” shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here: