NBPA's search for executive director down to two finalists

UPDATED 8:19 p.m. ET

NEW ORLEANS -- Twelve months after Billy Hunter was removed as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, draining an abscess of cronyism and lack of accountability, the union still has no permanent replacement and faces dissatisfaction about the slow, arduous process to find one.

The NBPA's executive committee met for 2 1/2 hours on Saturday to interview finalists for the job of replacing Hunter as the head of the union. The meeting was attended by about 30 players, less than 10 percent of the union membership. Aside from NBPA president Chris Paul, only two All-Stars attended -- Carmelo Anthony and LaMarcus Aldridge.

The committee members declined to divulge the names of any finalists or even how many there are. However, two people familiar with the process said there essentially are two leading candidates, with David White of the Screen Actors Guild being the strong front runner. The other finalist is Michele Roberts, a corporate lawyer from New York, Bloomberg News reported. If selected, Roberts would be the first woman to lead the union in any of the four major North American sports leagues.

NBPA vice presidents Roger Mason and James Jones did most of the talking, as Paul left the news conference after making a brief opening statement due to a scheduling conflict. Mason and Jones spoke of maintaining "transparency" in the search, and at least internally, that appears to be the case.

The union recorded the sessions with the two finalists and their interactions with committee members and other players in the room. The videos will be burned on DVDs and delivered to all 30 player reps. Any player rep or rank-and-file union member who wants to view the video of the meetings will be able to do so.

"Hopefully, today our players have a better understanding of the process," Mason said.

The details of the interviews, however, "will be kept in-house," Jones said, "to protect the integrity of the process."

But certain powerful agents have been frustrated with the search, overseen since September 2013 by the executive search firm Riley Partners of Chicago, which considered more than 200 candidates, according to Jones. Multiple influential agents say they have candidates in mind who have not been considered. One person familiar with the process said at least one player on the periphery of it believes the search should be started over and a new list of candidates should be developed, to be voted on at the NBPA's summer meeting -- when players are not in the middle of a season.

Mason and Jones said there is no timetable for appointing Hunter's permanent replacement, though one person briefed on the matter said, "We are nearing the end of the process."

Union business has continued under acting executive director Ron Klempner, and Mason said the NBPA has not been disrupted by the lack of a permanent replacement.

"We're still functioning," Mason said.

The appointment and contract terms for the NBPA's executive director must be approved by two-thirds of the combined total of 30 player reps and nine executive committee members. In other pending business, the union did not decide who will replace Matt Bonner, whose term on the executive committee has expired.

 
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