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Ex-Cleveland Cavaliers assistant Jim Boylan suing team for age discrimination

Former Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach Jim Boylan filed a lawsuit on Thursday alleging age discrimination against the team.
Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

CLEVELAND -- Days after firing head coach Tyronn Lue, the Cleveland Cavaliers were sued by one of his former assistants.

On Thursday, former Cavs assistant coach Jim Boylan filed a lawsuit in Cuyahoga County alleging age discrimination. The 63-year-old Boylan, who served as an assistant coach with the Cavs from 2013-18, did not have his contract renewed following the 2017-18 season. In court documents, he alleges he was informed of this by Lue, who told him the decision came from general manager Koby Altman and team owner Dan Gilbert.

Altman, Gilbert, Cavaliers Holdings, LLC and Cavaliers Operating Company, LLC are each listed as defendants in the case.

Per the filing:

"On or about June 17, 2018, then Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue left Coach Boylan a voicemail, informing him his employment would end, in which Coach Lue said: “Jimbo, what’s up, yo? This is T Lue. I had a talk with Koby yesterday. He does not want to pick up your option. He said it’s way too much money. They’re not gonna pay that kind of money for three assistants on the bench. He wants to go younger in that position and, you know, find somebody who’s a grinder and younger in that position. And he said he does not want to pick the option up for I guess it’s 500 or - I’m not sure.

"He said five something. And he just said it’s too much money, he said, so we’ll be paying Longabardi and LD. So he just said he wanted to go younger at that position and he does not want to pick up the option.” “But give me a call back if you get a chance. If you don’t, I just want to thank you for everything and for everything you’ve given to me, stuff I’ve learned from you, helped me through all the situations, the health situations, and just being a young coach, man. You know, I hate to see this shit end like this, but I mean, I mean you try to (inaudible) to do this. Unbelievable, man. And so, you know, I just wanted to let you know that.” “So I’ll try to give you a call, but that’s kind of what Koby’s thinking is, and that’s kind of where Dan was at. And so I just wanted to, you know, give you a call, you know, to tell you that. I’m out of town right now to come and look at some places for myself for the center, but I’ll be back in town I think Friday or Saturday. So I wanted to let you know, man. I just want to say thank you; I love you, brother. And, yeah, honestly, if you need anything from me, you know, I’ll be right there to ask, I’ll be there to help you, man. So thank you."

The suit notes that 42-year-old Damon Jones was promoted in Boylan's place. Mike Longabardi, 45, and James Posey, 41, were also retained on Lue's staff over the summer. Jones was fired earlier this week alongside Lue.

Boylan also alleges that Gilbert has "a pattern and practice of age discrimination across" his corporate organizations in which he owns equity and controlling interest, including the Cavaliers.

"Defendants discriminate against employees and candidates for employment on the basis of age with respect to hiring, renewal, termination, pay, raises, benefits, and in the terms and conditions of employment," the suit alleges in regards to Gilbert. "Defendants discriminatorily favor younger less qualified candidates and employees over substantially older employees."

You can read the entirety of the filing below:

Team Counsel Jason Hillman released the following statement regarding Boylan's lawsuit:

"The Cleveland Cavaliers had an ‘option,’ in its sole discretion, to extend the contract of its former Assistant Coach Jim Boylan one additional year for the 2018-2019 NBA season.

"The Cavaliers chose not to exercise its option to extend Mr. Boylan’s contract for the 2018-2019 season, a right that was fully and completely negotiated and executed in accordance with terms of the contract.

"The contract between the Cavaliers and Mr. Boylan ended with the completion of the 2017-2018 NBA season.

"Sometime over the past couple of months, Mr. Boylan hired the Cleveland, Ohio law firm of Thorman Petrov Group.

"After Mr. Boylan hired this plaintiff firm, Christopher Thorman wrote to the Cavaliers initially to 'informally' resolve matters related to Mr. Boylan’s employment, only to then follow up with an outrageous written demand for $6.174 million dollars. The demand was a precursor to a threat to file a lawsuit in the misguided hopes that embarrassing the Cavaliers by publishing Ty Lue’s voicemail would motivate a settlement. Thorman followed through with his threat yesterday.

"The outrageousness of Mr. Boylan’s claim of ‘age discrimination’ due to the Cavaliers not exercising an option in a contract both parties signed cannot be overstated. The only fact that exceeds the egregiousness of Mr. Boylan’s claim that he is owed any further compensation from the Cavaliers is the extortion attempts by Christopher Thorman demanding $6.174 million dollars when, had the one-year option been exercised for the 2018-2019 season, Mr. Boylan would have been paid $500,000 for his services. Mr. Thorman, as well as his law firm Thorman Petrov Group, has a pattern and practice of deploying these types of strategies.

"This frivolous lawsuit is simply an opportunistically-timed effort at a shameless cash grab. The team will seek immediate dismissal of this disappointing, unwarranted and baseless claim."

On Sunday, the Cavs fired Lue following an 0-6 start to the 2018-19 season. In his place, they named 60-year-old assistant Larry Drew acting head coach, although he has yet to agree to terms to serve as interim coach through the remainder of the season.

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