Lawyers for 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 — state in new court papers that West’s admissions in recent deposition testimony bolster the plaintiff’s argument for taking the small forward’s deposition.
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. West is a consultant with the Clippers.
Wilkes’ attorneys maintain in their court papers that they need to depose Leonard as part of their opposition to an upcoming defense motion to dismiss the case.
“As Kawhi Leonard signed with the L.A. Clippers, he would be the most knowledgeable person to testify as to the circumstances and reasons for signing with the (team),” according to Wilkes’ lawyers, who further argue in new court papers brought Wednesday that West’s March 15 deposition testimony admissions only reinforces their argument.
“Many important admissions were made by Jerry West during his deposition that have a direct impact on the taking of Kawhi Leonard’s deposition,” Wilkes’ attorneys state in their court papers.
The retired NBA Laker guard admitted that he spoke with Wilkes multiple times by text messages and telephone conversations and also testified he spoke with Leonard about the plaintiff and his lawsuit, according to Wilkes’ attorneys’ court papers.
West acknowledged deleting text messages on a daily basis regarding Wilkes and his lawsuit, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ court papers. In an excerpt of his deposition filed Friday by Wilkes’ lawyers, West says that during a conversation, Leonard was critical of Wilkes and his lawsuit.
According to West, Leonard told him, “What a farce this is. I hardly even know this man. Everyone is trying to make money off of me, including him.”
West further said that he and Leonard have a “nice relationship” and that the star player has “opened up. He’s not as quiet. Seems to be really happy.”
West also explained that the sheer number of text messages he deals with prompts him to delete most of them, regardless of the sender or the recipient.
“I erase my wife’s text messages,” West said. “Even with our granddaughter when she gets mad.”
West, 84, also acknowledges that he is still getting familiar with modern forms of communication.
“Listen, when it comes to anything (electronic), I don’t know anything about it,” West says. “I can’t use a computer.”
West says he prefers speaking directly to a person on a phone rather than texting.
“I wasn’t raised with all this electronic equipment,” West said. “And so consequently, I erase (text messages). I don’t need (them).”
In their court papers opposing Wilkes’ motion to take 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.
A hearing on whether Leonard will have to be deposed is scheduled March 29 before Judge Jon R. Takasugi.
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.