A former Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach is suing the team for age discrimination.
Jim Boylan, who spent the past five seasons with the Cavaliers before the team declined to renew his contract this summer, filed the civil lawsuit in Cuyahoga County (Ohio) on Thursday, according to online court records.
He is seeking damages in excess of $25,000 and names the Cavaliers, owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman as defendants.
According to a copy of the complaint obtained by USA TODAY Sports on Friday, Boylan, 63, received a voicemail from Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue on June 17 informing him that Altman was declining to pick up the team option in his contract, which was otherwise set to expire July 1.
Lue said in the voicemail message that the team had determined Boylan’s option was “way too much money” and “(Altman) wants to go younger in that position and, you know, find somebody who’s a grinder and younger in that position,” according to the lawsuit.
Boylan also claims in the suit that he later met with Altman, who confirmed that he and Gilbert were looking for a “younger” coach in Boylan’s role.
Jason Hillman, the Cavaliers’ chief of staff and team counsel, released a statement to USA TODAY Sports and other media outlets on Friday.
“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 statement read. “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.”
Hillman added that the team “will seek immediate dismissal of this disappointing, unwarranted and baseless claim.”
Boylan previously worked as an assistant coach for five other NBA franchises, including stints as the interim head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks.
The Cavaliers fired Lue on Sunday after the team stumbled to an 0-6 start. Cleveland’s “acting coach,” Larry Drew, turned 60 in April, while the two assistant coaches listed on its roster — James Posey and Mike Longabardi — are 41 and 45, respectively.
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