It seems every time you turn on your computer, another NBA player or agent has come out calling for Billy Hunter to be removed as head of the National Basketball Players Association, or what we just call the players’ union.
Recently it was Paul Pierce. Today it was Jerry Stackhouse. And not shockingly agent David Falk thinks it is time for Hunter to ride off into the sunset.
But Hunter continues to defend himself and told Howard Beck of the New York Times why he should be able to hold on to the job he has had since 1996 despite a recent audit by an independent legal team that raised a number of red flags surrounding issues of nepotism and questions of where money was spent. Oh, and there’s the matter of a joint federal investigation by the United States attorney’s office and the Labor Department. Which is never a good sign.
Hunter maintained he did nothing wrong and bristled at the idea he put personal and family interests ahead of the players.
“That’s not true,” he said. “Never. Absolutely not true. Absolutely not true.”
These couple graphs seemed to sum up what Hunter faces and his reaction.
Among the more significant concerns cited in the audit were Hunter’s hiring of family members; his receipt of a $1.3 million vacation payout that was inadequately documented; the decision to spend $80,000 in “due diligence” on a possible investment in a failing bank that had ties to his son; and questionable travel expenses. Hunter called the report “just a lot of little things.”
“It’s almost like you put enough together, and you throw it up against the wall, hopefully something will stick,” he said. “But when you look at them each individually, we can rebut them.”
One other thing Hunter made clear in the interview — he intends to get paid. He has $10.5 million remaining on his contract and while the independent report questioned if the contract was properly approved, Hunter and his attorney said it was and implied they were ready to go to court to make sure he gets his money.
You get the feeling the buyout is the key. It’s hard to see how Hunter survives in his job with a rising tide forming against him. He likely gets voted out All-Star weekend. The question is simply how much is the union is going to have to pay him to make this all go away and let them move on to whomever is next in that seat.
It’s that time of the year when there is no basketball, so we fill the time with idle Kyrie Irving speculation and video highlights of last season.
Along those lines, above you can out the top 60 clutch shots from last season, as determined by the folks at NBA.com.
The great thing about the clutch shot list is the ball is in the hands of stars at the ends of games, so there is plenty of Russell Westbrook, John Wall, LeBron James, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and more. Personally, I would have switch No. 1 and No. 2 on the list, but it’s all fun to relive.
Kyrie Irving has requested a trade. LeBron James could leave next summer. The Cavaliers keep churning through general managers, the newest – Koby Altman – the reason for today’s press conference.
But Cavs owner Dan Gilbert looked past his own team’s turmoil and potential turmoil to take a shot at the Pacers, who traded Paul George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
“I will say Indiana could have done better than they did,” Gilbert said after Altman refused to directly address a question about George trade talks and shifted the discussion elsewhere.
This didn’t strike me as Gilbert trying to distract from Cleveland’s troubles. He just seemed to want to take a shot at a foe, something he’s no stranger to doing. The Cavaliers are particularly salty about their trade offer for George, which included Kevin Love, not being accepted.
For what it’s worth, Gilbert is right. The Pacers should have done better. Oladipo is now on a lucrative contract extension, and Sabonis spent his rookie season showcasing the reasons people doubted him the draft. That’s a piddling return for a star, even one on an expiring contract with dreams of joining the Lakers.
The Kings lost Scott Perry to the Knicks, so Sacramento is seeking someone else to aid Vlade Divac in the front office.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Former Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith has met with Sacramento Kings officials about the franchise’s vacant vice president of basketball operations job, league sources told ESPN.
Smith has plenty of experience, which Divac lacks. But it’s not all good experience.
Running the Magic, Smith made numerous errors – including drafting Fran Vazquez (who has never played in the NBA) No. 11, overpaying Rashard Lewis and then trading Lewis for Gilbert Arenas’ even worse contract. If Smith’s Orlando tenure is predictive, he’ll indulge the Kings’ worst tendencies to mortgage the future for the present.
That said, Smith might have learned from his time with the Magic (though working under Stan Van Gundy with the Pistons the few couple years isn’t exactly the best place to hone long-term-planning skills). What amounts to an assistant general-manager role might be a better fit for him, too.
Usually, this opening wouldn’t garner so much attention. But Perry was lavished with praise for Sacramento’s offseason, raising the profile of this job – which already carried relative prominence. The No. 2 in the Kings’ front office is now perceived, somewhat fairly, as more important than the typical assistant general manager.
Jut before the trade deadline, the Lakers took a flier on Tyler Ennis, who had struggled in two-plus seasons with the Suns, Bucks and Rockets.
The former No. 18 pick finally looked like an NBA player in Los Angeles, so he’s returning.
The Los Angeles Lakers have signed guard Tyler Ennis, it was announced today by General Manager Rob Pelinka.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
This is fantastic value for the Lakers. Ennis is probably worth a minimum salary, and if he is, they have him for two years at that price. If not, they can drop him for no cost next summer, when their cap room will be at a premium. This is the type of bet smart teams make, which bodes well for the Magic Johnson regime.
Ennis’ productivity in Los Angeles might not be sustainable. He shot well above his career marks on 3-pointers and free throws in a small sample. But he looked more comfortable on the court, showing some of the savvy he was expected to bring from Syracuse. He’s also just 22, and point guards tend to develop later than other positions.
The Lakers still have their room exception, which they could use on another point guard. So, it’s uncertain whether Ennis will back up Lonzo Ball or fall to third string. I’m not sure any remaining free-agent point guards – Ty Lawson, Deron Williams, Brandon Jennings, Ramon Sessions – will command more than the minimum or playing time over Ennis, though.