Mike Dunleavy, Clippers battling
Another ugly Los Angeles Clippers season on the court is carrying over into the courtroom.
The team and former coach Mike Dunleavy are accusing each other of fraud in court filings before an arbitration hearing over whether Dunleavy is still owed money by the team.
Dunleavy resigned as coach in February after seven years and was fired as general manager a month later. In June, Dunleavy filed an arbitration claim under the provisions of his contract after the team stopped paying him. At the time he was fired as general manager, Dunleavy was in the fourth year of a five-year, $22 million contract.
Owner Donald Sterling and the Clippers claim that they were duped into signing the agreement. They say that Dunleavy never intended to fulfill his end of the deal and only wanted increased compensation.
"During negotiations of the Employment Agreement, Dunleavy made representations and promises to LAC (the Clippers) that he desired to, and would continue to perform, his duties and obligations as LAC's Head Coach through the 2010-11 NBA Season. LAC is informed and believes, and thereon allege, that at the time he made those representation and promises, Dunleavy had no intention to perform his duties and obligations as LAC's Head Coach through the 2010-11 NBA season, and knew these representations and promises to be false," the Clippers said in their filing.
The team contends that Dunleavy's request for an arbitration hearing "exceeds the scope of the narrow arbitration provision between LAC and Dunleavy" in his original contract.
Reached by ESPNLosAngeles.com, Dunleavy's lawyer, Miles Clements, said that the team is only trying to stall the arbitration process.
"It was always his intention to coach the Clippers to a successful season and to honor his contract as he has always honored every contract he's entered into," Clements wrote in an e-mail.
"A blind man can see what their strategy is, and that's to delay. That's a strategy they've employed in the past with coaches they've fired and didn't want to pay. I'm optimistic that strategy will not work for them here."
Robert Platt, the Clippers' general counsel, told the Los Angeles Times that the team welcomes "the opportunity to present our case at trial. This matter will be heard in the proper forum at the appropriate time. We are very confident that the evidence we present will inevitably result in a favorable determination."
The Clippers made the playoffs once in Dunleavy's tenure, losing in the Western Conference semifinals in 2006. He stepped down with a 21-28 mark last season. Kim Hughes took over and went 8-25 down the stretch.
Ramona Shelburne, a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com, contributed to this report.