Mike Dunleavy, who resigned as coach and was subsequently fired as general manager of the Clippers this season, has filed for arbitration, saying the team has cut off his salary.
Dunleavy's guaranteed five-year, $22-million contract, often cited as the reason owner Donald T. Sterling kept him through three difficult seasons, runs through the end of next season.
Dunleavy resigned as coach Feb. 4, with the team announcing he would stay as GM.
As GM, Dunleavy lasted until March 8 before he was fired, at which point, without announcement, the Clippers cut off his pay.
Dunleavy was owed $1.35 million for the balance of this season and $5.4 million for next season, a total of $6.75 million.
Dunleavy declined to comment, noting the pending arbitration process.
"We are in the process of mutually attempting to resolve any outstanding issues with Mr. Dunleavy," said Clippers attorney Robert Platt. "We're hopeful that we can reach a resolution in the near future."
Miles Clements, Dunleavy's New Orleans-based lawyer, confirmed that Dunleavy's contract has a provision, taking any dispute to binding arbitration.
"Mike went to lunch once day and they [the Clippers] told the media they had totally severed all ties with him," Clements said. "He learned about it from family and friends e-mailing him to ask what happened."
Clements said Clippers officials at first said they would like to negotiate a settlement, then dropped the request.
"Their attorney [Platt] didn't identify an issue," Clements said. "He said, ‘I'll get back to you in a couple of weeks.'
"I asked, ‘Will Mike be paid in the meantime?'
"He said he didn't know. I said, ‘OK, I guess I know where we're at.' "
Sterling, renowned for his thrift, sued Bill Fitch, who was fired as coach in 1998 with two years worth a total of $1.8 million left on his contract, claiming the 64-year-old Fitch had failed to seek another job.
After two years in court, the suit was settled.
Fitch's contract remained the biggest for a Clippers coach until Dunleavy's hiring in 2003.
After taking the Clippers to the second round of the playoffs in the spring of 2006, Dunleavy signed his five-year extension.