SBJ/May 5-11, 2014/Labor and Agents

NBPA: New chief by next season

The National Basketball Players Association plans to elect an executive director before the start of a new NBA season, NBPA vice president Roger Mason Jr. said last week.

In addition to looking at new candidates, Mason said the association will review previously eliminated candidates. The plan would be to interview three or four finalists for the top job at its annual meeting in July.

The executive director position at the union has been vacant since players fired Billy Hunter in February 2013, after an internal union investigation found he had acted against the interests of players. Recently, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was brought on to help assist in the search.

Mason would not discuss the status of two previously reported candidates — Screen Actors Guild Executive Director David White and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom attorney Michele Roberts — who met with NBA players at a union meeting during All-Star Weekend in February. White and Roberts have been identified in media reports as finalists for the post, but it’s not clear where they stand now in the process.

“We are going to vet possibly some new candidates and candidates who may have slipped through the cracks, but ultimately the best three or four will be put in front of our players,” Mason said, adding that Reilly Partners remains involved in the search process. “We are reviewing every résumé that we have gotten. They have already been re-evaluated. Anybody who felt they were not part of it, their name is going to be resurfaced.”

Mason said Johnson was brought in after players and some agents, including Excel Sports Management’s Jeff Schwartz, complained about the process. Notably, Schwartz wrote an open letter to the union, published by ESPN on March 13, criticizing the lack of transparency and involvement of players in the search and asked that it start over from scratch.

Schwartz also sent a letter to the union and several of his clients signed it, Mason said.

“There were some players who signed it, obviously, so we listened to our players,” Mason said.

He said other players and agents expressed similar sentiments to the NBPA, and that the union welcomes the input.


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