There is once again news related to the business operations of the Dallas Mavericks and this time things might get extremely ugly. According to a lengthy piece on ESPN.com, former general manager Donnie Nelson is suing the Mavericks, alleging that the firing was retaliatory for reporting that Mark Cuban’s chief of staff, Jason Lutin, harassed and assaulted Nelson’s nephew in 2020.
The lawsuit also alleges that Cuban offered Nelson, who was fired in June, $52 million to withdraw a wrongful termination claim and sign a confidentiality statement related to the alleged harassment and abuse of his nephew.
I recommend reading the entire thing as the lawsuit alleges much and owner Mark Cuban pushed back hard with a statement to ESPN.
“Everything in that filing is a lie,” Cuban wrote. “We did multiple complete investigations and the only person that did not live up to the standards of the Dallas Mavericks was Mr. Nelson. He was fired as a result. He was well aware of the investigation. He refused to fully participate. I will say it again, everything he said is a lie.”
In addition to the language of the lawsuit, the ESPN report notes that Nelson filed a complaint with Equal Employment and Opportunity and Diversity Office (EEOD) in December. According to the complaint
“Instead of taking prompt remedial action against Lutin and firing him, as required pursuant to the Mavericks supposed zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment, the Mavericks quietly and confidentially resolved the sexual harassment and sexual assault... Cuban’s cover up of Lutin’s sexual harassment and sexual assault is proof that the only reason Cuban ever cared about the discriminatory and sexist work environment of the Mavericks was when it was exposed and publicized by Sports Illustrated.”
That, of course, references the 2018 Sports Illustrated investigation into the Dallas Mavericks, which resulted in a large fine and a shake up of the back office along with office policies.
Past these blurbs, and I really recommend you go read the whole story, this sucks. The Mavericks are fun right now and fun in a way they haven’t been in a long time. For something as nasty as this to come out is a lot. Most of us want to compartmentalize, to watch basketball, yell about the refs, and enjoy Luka Doncic and company. But as forward facing Mark Cuban’s made clear that he wants to be the chief spokesperson for Mavericks basketball. And covering this lawsuit and what comes next is a part of that. We’ll do our best.
Reached for an official statement, the Mavericks had this to say:
Allegations that were brought against Jason Lutin were promptly and thoroughly investigated by outside investigators and counsel. The NBA was immediately made aware of the allegations. The claims were determined to be fabricated and the matter was resolved.
Separately, Mr. Nelson refused to cooperate with the investigators that were looking into his behavior.
Nelson’s claims of being terminated because of retaliation are completely unfounded and the lawsuit filed today is baseless and full of lies.
Mr. Nelson is fully aware, as is the NBA, of the reasons for his termination at the end of the 2020-2021 season.
The Mavs have always intended to hold private the inappropriate actions of Donnie Nelson that led to his termination.