Raptors’ Nurse served civil lawsuit by agent claiming breach of contract

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Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has been served a civil lawsuit by Warren LeGarie, a well-known agent who represents many NBA coaches and front-office executives, claiming a breach of contract.

First reported by USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt, Sportsnet has obtained the complaint LeGarie filed against the Raptors coach in the U.S. District Court Northern District of California where, in the complaint, it’s claimed that “Defendant NURSE breached his representation contract with Plaintiffs.”

LeGarie is the founder, shareholder and president of LeGarie Management, Inc., a corporation based in San Francisco that, according to the file, “represents top coaches, front office personnel and executives across the National Basketball Association.”

According to the complaint, Nurse and LeGarie Management (the plaintiffs in this case) entered into an “oral representation contract” around 2013, which would be around the time when Nurse would’ve been hired by the Raptors as an assistant coach.

This professional relationship between Nurse and LeGarie allegedly remained consistent until about April 2020, when, according to the complaint, Nurse “failed to abide by the terms of the representation contract, failed to pay Plaintiffs the amounts due under the representation contract, and failed to disclose to Plaintiffs the amount of the employment contract he entered into with the Toronto Raptors for the 2020-2021 through 2023-2024 NBA seasons, thus denying Plaintiffs the opportunity to be paid for commissions owed on Defendant NURSE’s employment contract for the 2020-2021 through 2023-2024 NBA seasons.”

LeGarie is claiming that he and his management team had done work on behalf of Nurse between June 2019 (shortly after Toronto won the 2019 championship) and April 2020 on a potential four-year contract extension, negotiating with Raptors president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster, but then Nurse “breached his representation contract with Plaintiffs and instructed Plaintiffs to not proceed in any further negotiation discussions.”

When reached for comment, Jerry Crawford, Nurse’s attorney, said Nurse will do all he can to fight back against the lawsuit.

“We were very disappointed that a suit was filed, but we respect the legal process and there’s a limit on what we can say at this stage, but I can assure you Nick is going to defend himself vigorously,” Crawford told Sportsnet.

Crawford also added that the next steps will involve an answer to the complaint, which will happen within about 30 or 40 days.

Nurse is now represented by Klutch Sports’ Andy Miller. According to the lawsuit, Nurse’s salary for the 2020-21 season was re-adjusted to about the $6-8 million and his four-year extension salary would come in at about $8 million per season. LeGarie is now seeking commission for the parts of Nurse’s contract he claims he negotiated for Nurse.

“In or around April of 2020, after Plaintiffs had performed work over a period of nine months in order to negotiate the potential four year contract extension and renegotiation of the 2020-2021 season contract,” the lawsuit said.

LeGarie was offered to represent Nurse in exchange for a three per cent commission on Nurse’s head coach contracts and a four per cent commission on assistant coach contracts, according to the complaint.

“Warren LeGarie has successfully represented numerous NBA head coaches and executives for more than two decades,” Hunter Pyle, LeGarie’s attorney, told Zillgit in a statement. “He represented Nick Nurse for over seven years and successfully negotiated several contracts for him pursuant to the same agent agreement that is the subject of this lawsuit. Mr. LeGarie employed his considerable experience and relationships in the NBA to help advance the career of Mr. Nurse as he progressed from an assistant to the head coach of the Toronto Raptors. The lawsuit speaks for itself as to the facts and law on the matter. I have nothing more to say about the case at this time.”