The NBA players union is about to head in a new direction.
Back at the All-Star Game the union ousted executive director Billy Hunter amid charges of nepotism and questionable use of union funds — Hunter has since sued for wrongful termination — and the players are just hiring a firm to start a serious search for a replacement. In this time the power of union president Derek Fisher as faded as well.
Wednesday in Las Vegas the union will elect a new president, and it is he that will oversee the search for a new executive director.
The president will likely be Roger Mason Jr. as he is the only announced candidate, reports Howard Beck at the New York Times.
“The task at hand is pretty great,” Mason said in a telephone interview. “And I can appreciate how much time and energy needs to go into this type of commitment, just from my involvement. There may be other guys that understand that and that want to run, and that’s their right.”
LeBron James seriously considered the idea of a run, but he backed out because he has so many off-the-court commitments as it is.
“The executive committee has been hard at work,” Mason said. “The people in the office have been busting their tails and working for the players. I think when the player reps and the body sees what’s been done since the All-Star break, they’ll start to be excited about where we’re going as a union.”
David Stern has said there are a number of issues on the table, including testing for HGH, that the league wants to move forward with but have been stalled as the union looks for new leadership.
The next step for the union will be to hire a search firm, which will then put together a list of candidates to replace Hunter as executive director. Around the league many expect former Madison Square Garden President Steve Mills to get the job, but there likely will be a long list and a lot of interviews before anyone gets the gig.
While the union represents the players on a number of fronts, the biggest for fans is that whoever is selected as the new executive director will be the guy sitting across from Adam Silver in 2017 when either the players or owners (or both) opt out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and negotiate a new one. There are a lot of people on the players’ side — particularly agents — who wanted a more hardline stance, and if that is the case you can expect another round of missed games and ugliness.
The new president, likely Mason, will oversee who gets to sit in that chair.