Kawhi Leonard was heavily linked with a move to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, only to join rivals LA Clippers.
Kawhi Leonard was the top free agent heading into the summer after a sensational postseason saw him lead the Toronto Raptors to their first ever NBA championship. It soon became a battle between the two L.A. teams with multiple reports suggesting he favoured a return home to California.
The Lakers were soon regarded as the favourites for his signature with several insiders stating a deal was as good as done.
But Leonard then shocked a number of people by announcing he would in fact be joining the Clippers with Paul George also teaming up on Doc Rivers’ team after they agreed a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That left the Lakers frustrated at missing out on their top free agent while also seeing their city rivals immediately become title contenders.
Ultimately the decision hasn’t affected the Lakers that much as they currently lead the Clippers at the top of the Western Conference.
But according to an explosive report in The Athletic, members of the Lakers board are still resentful over how discussions were held throughout the summer.
The Lakers held talks with Leonard’s uncle, Dennis Robertson, and agent, Mitch Frankel and it is alleged the former made some illicit requests for “improper benefits during the free agency process”.
It is claimed Robertson had asked Lakers officials for part ownership of the team, a private plane, a house and a guaranteed amount of off-court endorsement money.
The NBA conducted a formal investigation after hearing complaints about Robertson’s conduct in free agency discussions, which ultimately found no evidence was found that the Clippers had granted special requests which would fall outside of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
But Leonard’s uncle also reportedly held three separate phone calls with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss making such requests and she repeatedly indicated no such perks would be included in any deal because of their illegality.
And it seems frustrations only grew stronger after Leonard announced he had rejected an approach from the Lakers in favour of joining arch-rivals Clippers.
Leonard was asked about the alleged discussions between Robertson and the Lakers ahead of their Christmas Day games.
And the reigning NBA Finals MVP suggested there was no truth behind the claims.
“I didn’t read it,” he said.
“I have no knowledge of it.
“People make up stories every day.”