With the Clippers and Lakers set to meet on Christmas Day, Kawhi Leonard will face LeBron James and the team many predicted he’d sign with in free agency.
Leonard surprised people by heading to the Clippers instead of its rival Los Angeles franchise. The Athletic’s Sam Amick reports that some of the requests coming from Leonard’s uncle, Dennis Robertson, in free agency made the Lakers feel uncomfortable.
According to Amick, Robertson asked Lakers governor Jeanie Buss for Leonard to receive part ownership of the team, a private plane, a house and a guaranteed amount of off-court endorsement money to secure his commitment to the team. Robertson reportedly discussed his requests with Buss over three phone calls over the course of three days, and she made it clear that the perks were illegal and would not be met.
Buss reportedly sensed “that the Lakers were being used as leverage to help Leonard get what he wanted out of the Clippers.”
Sources told Amick that Robertson also made similar requests of the Raptors.
Leonard signed a three-year, $103 max contract with the Clippers in July. The team also acquired Paul George in a trade with the Thunder in exchange for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, five first-round picks and two pick swaps.
The NBA reportedly investigated the Clippers after complaints surfaced that Robertson was making improper requests during the free agency period.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Athletic earlier this season that the league was “looking into activities from this summer.” Sources said the NBA found no evidence that the Clippers granted any of Robertson’s requests for improper benefits during its investigation.
“We did tell our teams [at the Board of Governors meeting in New York in late September] that we are looking into and continue to look into activities from this summer,” Silver said. “I will also say that we [were] trying to draw a line at this board meeting, and focus everyone on the [free agency] rules going forward.”