Reports: Cuban, Nelson unable to resolve dispute in mediation

Updated: June 17, 2008, 12:45 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The contract dispute between Don Nelson and Mark Cuban is headed to arbitration.

According to Dallas-Fort Worth area media reports, the outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner and his former coach were unable to reach an agreement Monday in a mediation session over back wages that Nelson says he is owed.

Nelson, who resigned with 18 games left in the 2004-05 season, claims he deferred more than $6 million in salary from the Mavs' former owners, led by Ross Perot Jr., when he took the job in 1997. Cuban bought the team from Perot in 2000.

Cuban has countered by saying Nelson forfeited the money when he took over as head coach of the Golden State Warriors in 2006, claiming he violated a "non-compete" clause in his contract. Nelson was employed by the Mavs as a consultant when he was hired by the Warriors.

"We deferred this money to help out the basketball team and help out their cash flow," Nelson's attorney John O'Connor told reporters. "Really, it is no different than money that has been paid to somebody for their regular earnings. We deferred it. Cuban is doing this now really out of spite for Don."

Cuban declined comment on Monday, according to media reports.

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