Kawhi Leonard’s uncle, Dennis Robertson, reportedly had a list of requirements necessary for the reigning Finals MVP to sign with the Lakers that was exorbitant enough to make any precocious child blush.
Sam Amick of The Athletic reported Robertson wanted Leonard to receive a partial ownership share, private plane access, a house and a guaranteed amount of endorsement money to secure his commitment. All of those requests would have violated the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement and were thus denied by Lakers governor Jeanie Buss.
The report says Robertson requested a similar bounty when meeting with the Toronto Raptors.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Athletic that the league is investigating numerous “activities” from the free-agency period. The league has, to this point, found no evidence the Clippers provided Leonard or Robertson with any impermissible benefits.
“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. 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.”
If the league eventually finds any circumvention of the CBA, it’s likely the punishment would be sweeping and historic in nature. Former commissioner David Stern stripped the Minnesota Timberwolves of five first-round draft picks and fined the team $3.5 million for coming to an agreement to a salary-cap circumventing contract with forward Joe Smith in 2000.
The requests made by Robertson reportedly created resentment over how the process was handled by Leonard’s camp. The Lakers ultimately waited out Leonard’s free-agency decision in part because an unidentified player was told Kawhi wanted to sign with the franchise. The process caused them to miss out on a number of potential free agents, watching Kawhi and Paul George team up with the rival Clippers.