Nelson wins case vs. Cuban

BRISTOL, CONNECTICUT (TICKER) Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson has been awarded $6.3 million as a result of winning his breach-of-contract claim against Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, according to a report posted Friday morning on ESPN.com.

Retired judge Glen M. Ashworth, now a Dallas-based arbitrator, ruled on Thursday in favor of Nelson, who stepped down as the Mavericks coach with just 18 games remaining in the 2005-06 season.

Nelson had signed a new contract prior to the 2004-05 campaign in which he agreed to coach the team for three more seasons before taking over as a consultant for the following five years.

However, upon leaving the bench, Nelson claimed that Cuban never used him as a consultant, ignoring his e-mails and barring him from attending training camp, practices and from flying on the team plane, the report states.

Nelson returned to the bench, signing on as the Warriors head coach in August 2006, a move which Cuban claims violated a non-compete clause in his contract as a Dallas consultant.

Ashworth saw otherwise, ruling that Cuban must pay Nelson the remaining $6.3 million in deferred payments from his time as a coach with the Mavericks.

“It was kind of a silly case,” Nelson told ESPN.com. “It’s like a pimple on his behind for (Cuban), but ($6-plus million is) a big number for me. I don’t feel like I’ve won the lottery because I’ve already earned that money, but it’s good to know I’m going to get it.

“It’s not the way I wanted this to go. I wanted to be the Red Auerbach of the Dallas Mavericks (after coaching), but that’s not what (Cuban) wanted. … I’m having fun again and that’s the way it should be. It’s all working out great (with the Warriors) and I’ll probably end up doing something (in a franchise patriarch role) like I thought I was going to do in Dallas.”

Despite the ruling, Cuban is not wallowing in defeat saying in an e-mail to ESPN.com that the arbitration hearing was worth the hassle.

“I got exactly what I wanted out of the deal - the true facts of the situation,” Cuban said. “I feel a lot better knowing that under oath (Nelson) said that (during Dallas’ NBA) Finals games (in 2006) that he was meeting with (Golden State’s) GM and helping the Warriors work on their draft plans. (And) that he and his lawyers had started discussions more than a month before he took the job, not days as he said publicly.

“Unfortunately, according to the arbitrator, because I held back about $25,000 in (consulting) payments as I tried to understand the situation, I am obligated to pay him the deferred money he was to be paid. Basically I pay him the exact same amount I would (have paid him) had this not happened. … I can live with that.”


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Updated Friday, Aug 1, 2008