While National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter plans to continue implementing some of the recommendations made last week by the Paul, Weiss firm in its scathing, 469-page report on union finances and governance, CBSSports.com has learned that another legal challenge may be brewing.
The New York State Attorney General's office is aware of the report's findings and is examining whether action may be necessary regarding Hunter's oversight of the NBPA's charitable foundation, law enforcement sources said.
The report found the union's foundation never held elections for board members or for an executive director and did not hold or keep records of regular meetings, in violation of its bylaws. Also, the report found the foundation often made charitable donations at Hunter's sole discretion, and in some cases, those donations went to charities with which he was personally involved.
While Paul, Weiss investigators found no evidence that Hunter misappropriated foundation funds, the foundation is subject to New York state non-profit law and is under the jurisdiction of the state attorney general.
“We cannot comment on potential or ongoing investigations,” a spokesperson for New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement to CBSSports.com.
Meanwhile, player reaction and activism in the wake of last week's massive findings against Hunter continue to be slow-to-nonexistent. Nets star Deron Williams, who told CBSSports.com that “change is needed, top to bottom” in the union, remains the lone public voice of concern about Hunter's actions.
Asked this week for their thoughts on the report, which cast doubt on Hunter's hiring practices and stewardship of union resources, Knicks stars Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler both said they didn't have enough information yet to comment. Steve Novak, the Knicks' player representative, said it's “too early to make a decision one way or the other” and suggested that a face-to-face meeting with Hunter at All-Star weekend in Houston would be the next step.
“I think we have to talk to Billy, talk to the lawyers on the other side and kind of get the other guys' feelings and put it in an open forum amongst the guys,” Novak said. “At that point it's going to be kind of a majority rules kind of thing.”
If Novak is correct that the first opportunity player reps will have to discuss the findings against Hunter will be next month at All-Star weekend, the union is going to have a difficult time mobilizing and getting organized. Among the recommendations in the report, the union was urged to take steps to ensure that a full slate of 30 player reps and alternates is properly elected. In addition, the players have been instructed that they must elect seven executive committee members to fill expired terms. According to the report, only president Derek Fisher and vice president Matt Bonner should be recognized as executive committee members.
Since the investigators found that Hunter's 2010 contract extension was not voted on by the player reps, the players have the option of not recognizing the contract as valid and dismissing him. Due to the union's vague constitution and bylaws, however, the process for such a decision isn't clear.
"There's definitely some work that needs to be done," Novak said. "It's a good thing. What's gone on is a good thing. Having the reports come out like this and having everything aired, I think, is a great start. I think at this point guys are going to feel more involved, are going to be a part of what goes on from here on out."