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Clippers Settle Contract Lawsuit With Fitch

Orange County Register
August 21, 2002

By Art Thompson III

News Summary

More than four years after firing him, the Clippers have reached a financial settlement with former coach Bill Fitch. The Clippers and the law firm representing Fitch agreed to keep the terms of the settlement confidential.

The agreement cancels a trial that was to begin Tuesday in Los Angeles. The two sides met with a mediator in a three-hour session to reach accord. ''Both parties were satisfied with the resolution that was reached (Monday),'' said Bob Platt, the legal counsel for the Clippers. ''We wish Bill Fitch well.''

Fitch was fired April 20, 1998, with two years remaining on a four-year contract that paid him $2 million annually. Under terms of the contract, the Clippers were free from their financial obligation if Fitch accepted another NBA coaching job. Fitch, whose 25-year coaching career included four seasons with the Clippers, was second on the career-victory list with 944 triumphs when he was fired. He has not coached in the league since.

Fitch led the Clippers to their most recent playoff appearance in 1997.

The main disagreement that led to the suit was that the Clippers believed Fitch was not trying hard enough to secure another coaching job, thus they stopped paying him after he received $200,000 of the $4 million owed him. Fitch sued for $3.8 million plus interest.

''Bill was happy to get this behind him,'' said Paul Murphy, who, along with Brian O'Neill represented Fitch.

Fitch led the Boston Celtics to the 1981 NBA championship. He won coach of the year awards in 1975-76 and 1979-80. Fitch was traveling to his home in suburban Houston on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

Although Fitch has been out of the NBA the past four seasons, Murphy said Fitch would like to return to basketball in some capacity.


Copyright 2002 Orange County Register. All rights reserved.

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