Former Cavs assistant coach sues organization for age discrimination

Head coach Jim Boylan of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 17, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Bucks defeated the Suns 98-94. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND– Former Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach Jim Boylan is suing the organization for age discrimination.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, is against the Cavaliers, owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman. Boylan is seeking more than $25,000 in damages.

The 63-year-old’s contract was not renewed during the off-season. According to the suit, head coach Tyronn Lue, who was fired on Sunday, left Boylan a voicemail informing him on the decision on June 17.

“I talked 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,” Lue said on the voicemail, according to the filing.

Boylan reported he spoke with Altman, who said he and Gilbert wanted a younger coach and his job performance had nothing to do with his termination.

The lawsuit also stated the Cavs hired or retained five other coaches who are under the age of 50.

The following is the entire statement released Friday afternoon from the Cavaliers Basketball Chief of Staff and Team Counsel Jason Hillman:

“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.”

The Cavs first hired Boylan in 1992 and he stayed with the organization until 1997. Over the next decade, he served as an assistant coach for the Suns, Hawks and Bulls. He spent brief stints as head coach in Chicago and Milwaukee before rejoining the Cavaliers in 2013.

More stories on the Cleveland Cavaliers here

*Editor’s note: This script was updated Friday afternoon with a statement from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ basketball chief of staff/team counsel.