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Around the NBA: Clippers being investigated for tampering, NBA sets trade deadline

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NBA: Preseason-Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Clippers being investigated for tampering with Kawhi, Jerry West being sued for a cool $2.5 mil

In one of the wackier tampering stories I’ve seen, the Los Angeles Clippers are being investigated by the NBA for tampering while Jerry West is being sued by a man named Johnny Wilkes who claims he helped the Clippers land Kawhi in the 2019 offseason.

The first bit of this story was reported by TMZ on Monday:

A man who claims to be Kawhi Leonard’s pal says Jerry West owes him $2.5 MIL for his role in helping the Clippers land the NBA superstar ... and he’s demanding JW pay up ASAP.

It’s all in a new lawsuit obtained by TMZ Sports ... in which Johnny Wilkes spells out how he agreed to work with West for a small fortune in exchange for help getting Kawhi in a Clippers uni.

Wilkes says back on April 10, 2019, he met West at Staples Center and informed the Clippers’ executive board member he had close ties to Kawhi and Kawhi’s uncle, Dennis Robertson.

Wilkes says he and West exchanged contact information ... and a few weeks later, in June, West asked Wilkes for help in courting Kawhi to Los Angeles.

In the suit, Wilkes claims he told West he’d only help if the Clippers would pay him $2.5 MILLION ... and Wilkes claims West agreed to the terms.

TMZ updated their story with a comment from West:

A rep for Jerry West tells TMZ Sports he did nothing improper ... and didn’t even know he was being sued.

“I am not aware of any lawsuit being filed against me and I deny engaging in any improper conduct in connection with the signing of Kawhi Leonard.”

Imagine finding out you’re being sued by a TMZ report — rough start to a Monday!

If Wilkes story is true, and again, West denies that it is, this could be a case of illegal tampering given that Kawhi was playing in the NBA Finals for the Toronto Raptors in June 2019. And according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, the NBA has launched a tampering investigation into the L.A. Clippers:

If the Clippers are found guilty, the NBA will have another task on its hands: how do you reprimand a team for tampering when said team possesses none of it’s own first round draft picks?

NBA sets 2020-21 Trade Deadline at March 25th

The NBA has set the 2020-21 Trade Deadline for March 25th. Back on December 3rd, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the NBA was targeting March 25th as the trade deadline, pending board approval. Now, it’s official. Charania also reported that the NBA All-Star break will be March 5th-10th.

Utah Jazz sign free agent Yogi Ferrell

According to Shams Charania, the Utah Jazz have signed free agent guard Yogi Ferrell.

Ferrell played for the Sacramento Kings the previous two seasons, averaging 4.4 points and 1.4 assists in 10.6 minutes per game in 2019-20.