Clippers deny tampering; Kawhi Leonard denies begrudging Magic Johnson leak, sabotaging Lakers
Did the Clippers tamper with Kawhi Leonard while he was still playing for the Raptors?
Did Leonard reject the Lakers because details of his meeting with Magic Johnson leaked?
Did Leonard play the Lakers by waiting a week to announce his decision, letting other good free agents commit elsewhere then going to the Clippers?
All alleged… all denied.
Clippers president Lawrence Frank on tampering, via Ben Golliver of The Washington Post:
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
Yahoo Sports Exclusive: One-on-one with @LAClippers star Kawhi Leonard on Magic Johnson divulging their chat, how he felt about his plane being tracked in Toronto, on narrative he played the Lakers, Raptors and more. https://t.co/V1e6tw52DR pic.twitter.com/jB157tnEzq— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 25, 2019
Leonard on whether the leaks from his conversation with Magic Johnson bothered him:
Leonard on playing other teams, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
File all this under: What else are they supposed to say?
Of course, Frank isn’t going to admit to tampering. The Clippers got fined once for it, when Doc Rivers publicly compared Leonard to Michael Jordan. Frank isn’t going to invite more punishment. The NBA is reportedly investigating tampering throughout the league.
Leonard is famously private. Teams were reportedly even warned not to leak during his free agency. I wouldn’t be surprised if his alarm bells went off when details of his meeting with Johnson leaked. The Lakers let plenty get out. But publicly blaming Johnson for the Lakers not getting Leonard? I don’t think Leonard wants to put that heat on a respected all-time great player – whether or not Johnson actually deterred Leonard from signing with the Lakers.
As for Leonard playing the Lakers, this is the denial I most strongly believe. It just doesn’t seem like something he’d do. As he said, they chose to wait for him. He couldn’t force them to do that. But if Leonard delayed to play the Lakers, it’d look a lot like what actually happened. I can’t rule it out.