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NBA Agent Jarinn Akana Files Lawsuit Against Pacers Head Coach Rick Carlisle For Alleged Unpaid Agent Work

NBA agent Jarinn Akana filed a lawsuit against Indiana Pacers Head Coach Rick Carlisle for breach of contract and promissory estoppel in Dallas County Court.

Akana worked closely with the late agent Dan Fegan before Fegan's passing. Fegan represented stars including DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, and Monta Ellis. Fegan and Carlisle were close friends, according to the complaint. With that, Akana claims that he, Carlisle, and Fegan had conversations in late 2017 and early 2018 about Fegan's intention to renegotiate Carlisle's contract with the Dallas Mavericks. Shortly thereafter, Fegan unfortunately passed in a car accident.

Akana says that he and Carlisle later arranged a meeting in Dallas wherein the parties reached an oral agreement that Akana would represent Carlisle in contract negotiations with the Mavericks and Carlisle would "take care of [Akana] and pay him what was fair." Prior to this agreement, Fegan was helping Carlisle out with negotiations with the Mavericks (which Akana claims in the complaint was a "direct violation of the NBPA Regulations Governing Player Agents, which prohibits a person from simultaneously representing coaches and players in the NBA").

Per the complaint, Akana met with Mark Cuban and lawyers for the Dallas Mavericks concerning the renegotiation of Carlisle's contract. Akana says that he ultimately achieved an incredible result and "fully performed" his duties, helping to make Carlisle one of the highest paid coaches in the NBA and securing his alleged principal a salary increase of seven figures per year. Carlisle was extended through the 2022-2023 season. Prior to the negotiations, Carlisle was on a five-year deal initially worth $35M.

The parties allegedly agreed that Akana would be paid annually a percentage of Carlisle's salary until the contract's expiration. Akana says that Carlisle balked at the amount of money Akana expected, and instead wrote a check to Akana for $200,000 on January 1st, 2019. Akana had asked for a larger percentage of Carlisle's salary but nonetheless says he begrudgingly agreed to proceed under those terms.

But Akana couldn't bear what happened next. The following year, Akana says, Carlisle refused to pay him at all and even made threats that Carlisle would report him to the NBPA for violating regulations (specifically, representing both players and coaches simultaneously). Akana claims that Carlisle offered Akana a one-time payment of $250,000 which he was to accept or receive nothing at all. The total amount potentially due at that time was $800,000, per the complaint. Akana says he refused the offer. Akana says Carlisle has refused to pay him since then.

Thereafter, on June 17, 2021, Carlisle ended his tenure with the Mavericks. As the life of the contract was not fully lived out, Akana says he is still owed $400,000. With that, he filed a lawsuit against Carlisle, alleging he has suffered damages in the amount of $400,000.

Jason Morrin is a Workers’ Compensation, Injury, and Employment attorney in New York. He graduated cum laude from Hofstra Law School where he was president of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society. His reporting for Conduct Detrimental has been cited by ESPN, The New York Post, USA Today, Bleacher Report, and more. He may be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @Jason_Morrin.

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