LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A man who sued the Los Angeles Clippers and Jerry West alleging he is owed $2.5 million for helping the NBA team sign Kawhi Leonard had nothing to do with bringing the parties together, the NBA star's uncle states in a new sworn declaration.
Plaintiff Johnny Wilkes alleges in a Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed in December 2020 that he and West reached a verbal deal in 2019 in which Wilkes would provide the Clippers with information to lure Leonard to Los Angeles, taking advantage of the plaintiff's close relationship with Leonard and the star small forward's uncle, Dennis Robertson.
But Robertson says neither he nor Leonard knew that Wilkes claimed to have entered into a verbal agreement with West until the plaintiff sued. His declaration was submitted Tuesday by attorneys for the Clippers and West, who oppose a request by Wilkes' lawyers to take Leonard's deposition.
``(Wilkes) was not invited to and did not participate in any of the meetings or negotiations that Kawhi Leonard had with any NBA team, Robertson said. ``Nor did (he) play any role in Mr. Leonard's decision to sign with the Clippers.''
Robertson, who lives and works on the East Coast, further says he met Wilkes in high school about 40 years ago and that the two occasionally spoke by phone or text. They also sometimes saw each other in Los Angeles and Wilkes met Leonard because of the player's relationship to Robertson, Robertson says.
Robertson says he has never sought or received advice from Wilkes regarding Leonard's NBA career or business opportunities, nor did Wilkes offer any such counsel to him.
``In addition, I am not aware of (Wilkes) having any discussions with Kawhi Leonard about his basketball career or business opportunities,'' Robertson says.
Contrary to what Wilkes has said, he and Robertson have never been ``business associates,'' nor was Wilkes a ``center of influence'' for Leonard, according to Robertson.
``Rather, (Wilkes) is simply someone that I have known for many years,'' Robertson says.
Robertson says Leonard has nothing relevant to offer in any deposition testimony.
``Because I had interactions with (Wilkes) and Mr. Leonard did not, I do not believe Mr. Leonard has any relevant testimony regarding (Wilkes') claims,'' Robertson says.
Wilkes also maintains in his suit that he told the Clippers they should pursue Paul George to join Leonard on the team.
In their court papers opposing the taking of Leonard's deposition, lawyers for the Clippers and West state that Wilkes has admitted that Leonard does not have any relevant information regarding the alleged verbal contract with Jerry West.
``Indeed, (Wilkes) admits that he never spoke to Leonard about West or the Clippers,'' the defense attorneys state in their court papers. ``Rather, (Wilkes) claims that all of his conversations were with Leonard's uncle, Dennis Robertson. But (Wilkes) offers no evidence that Robertson attempted to do so.''
The defense attorneys further state in their court papers that Wilkes has refused to depose Robertson and instead ``seeks to leapfrog Robertson and depose Leonard, who is a non-party to this litigation. There is no reason for the court to allow this unnecessary and abusive discovery tactic.''
Leonard, 30, underwent surgery last July to repair a partially torn right ACL he suffered earlier in a second round series with the Utah Jazz and could return to play before the end of the current season.