Kawhi Leonard‘s uncle Dennis Robertson reportedly sought improper benefits during last summer’s free agency period, leading to an NBA investigation of the LA Clippers.
Robertson is said to have asked teams pursuing Leonard—in addition to the max deal he signed—part ownership, a private plane, housing and endorsement dollars.
No evidence was found that the Clippers agreed to grant any of the lavish requests, which would have circumvented the League’s salary cap rules.
Per The Athletic:
“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,” [commissioner Adam] Silver told The Athletic earlier this season when asked if the Clippers were under investigation. “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. I think that (I’ll) just leave it at that. We are looking at the behavior from the summer. We have and we continue to look at it, but first and foremost we want to change the way business is done going forward.”
The stories about Robertson’s wish list made their way to the league office soon after Leonard made his decision, with concerned parties reporting that Leonard’s uncle had asked pursuing teams for much, much more than a max contract (Kawhi ultimately signed a three-year, $103 million deal with the Clippers). 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.
A source with knowledge of the Kawhi-Lakers talks said Robertson made those requests repeatedly to owner Jeanie Buss over the course of three phone calls that spanned several days, and that she made it clear that such perks were illegal and would not be considered. There was even a question raised by Robertson about why Lakers legend Magic Johnson had been given a small piece of Lakers ownership so many years ago, with Buss explaining that the two situations couldn’t have been more different – even beyond the fact that one was legal and the other was not.