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Kevin Johnson to lead players’ union search for new executive director

Apr 7, 2014, 8:14 PM EST

Kevin Johnson

Well, at least now the NBA players union has decided on who is going to help them decide who should be executive director.

Former NBA player and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will head up a search committee to find a new executive director for the National Basketball Players Association, the union announced on Monday.

That job has been vacant since Billy Hunter was let go 14 months ago following a scathing report that questioned his management and said he made preferential dealings with family members. The union press release says the goal is to have someone in place by the start of next season.

“Mayor Johnson is in a unique position as a former player and someone skilled in the politics of negotiations to lead this effort,” said union president Chris Paul in a released statement.

“I have a deep passion for the NBA and the promise it has for everyone connected to it,” Johnson said in his statement. “Everything I’ve been able to achieve in life was a result of embracing the opportunities that I had as an NBA player.”

Johnson is a polished consensus builder — remember he spearheaded the effort to keep the Kings in Sacramento — and those are the kinds of skills needed to help pick someone for a position where a lot of different people have varied interest in who gets selected. There are agents and others that want to push back against the owners after gains the owners made in the last collective bargaining agreement, while others see those percentage points as gone and want instead someone who can hold that line and find ways to increase the league’s revenue pool. Also, there has long been an “what is good for the elite players may not be good for the average player” tension in the union and in its bargaining sessions.

Whoever is ultimately selected for this job will be the one sitting across the table from Adam Silver in 2017 when one side — probably the owners but maybe the players — opts out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. A lockout that year seems likely, at least as viewed right now, and how that plays out will in large part be about who is picked and what their view of the negotiations.

There already has been one round of searches and this past All-Star weekend in New Orleans the union’s executive committee met with two candidates: David White, former director of the Screen Actors Guild; and Michele Roberts, a respected corporate attorney.

After those interviews the union has decided to open up the process again.

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