The National Basketball Players Association has reportedly placed union chief Billy Hunter on an indefinite leave of absence. Intentions are to have Hunter removed on a permanent basis, according to Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski.
Sources also indicate that the leave of absence is paid.
Indefinite leave of absence is first step in a process to have Billy Hunter removed on a permanent basis as exec. director, sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 1, 2013
Billy Hunter's leave of absence is paid, source tells Y! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 1, 2013
While Hunter is being phased out, Wojnarowski reports that Ron Klempner will be named the interim executive director.
This has been an ongoing saga. Wojnarowski originally cited sources reporting that Hunter had signed a five-year, $15 million extension to remain the union chief of the NBPA but that he didn't get formal approval from the players.
NBPA counsel Ron Klempner has been made interim executive director. NBA players were informed in a memo circulated late this morning.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 1, 2013
Discussions have been taking place about a change in leadership within the union, since Hunter was still receiving money on an increased salary from his contract during the lockout last season. That contract began on July 1, 2011—the first day of the lockout.
Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg tweeted the findings of the law firm that was investigating this matter in helping the union to suspend Hunter. It concluded that Hunter didn't engage in any criminal wrongdoing. However, it did conclude Hunter did act in his own interests and not those of the union, which is grounds for dismissal.
NBA union report: Billy Hunter did not engage in criminal acts. Put his interests ahead of union and members consider whether he stays #NBA— Scott Soshnick (@soshnick) January 17, 2013
Per Chris Herring and The Wall Street Journal, Hunter's attorney, Thomas Ashley, strongly maintained his client's innocence, claiming Hunter had been mistreated and not given any opportunity to respond to the allegations and report:
I am deeply troubled by the lack of fundamental fairness shown my client by a group whose authority to take such action is highly questionable. The act of placing my client on administrative leave is not supported in either the constitution or bylaws of the NBPA. Furthermore, Mr. Hunter was not given any opportunity to respond to the Paul Weiss report prior to the time that a decision was made to place him on administrative leave.
The Journal report goes on:
Players around the league received the news of the change Friday in a memo, in which union President Derek Fisher said, "This organization has been disrupted, and we will no longer tolerate it. Immediate action was necessary and taken to protect you." The union declined to comment further.
Luke Adams of HoopsWorld.com notes that Hunter made moves to fire his daughter and daughter-in-law to ward off assertions of nepotism.
Despite that, the clock looks to be officially running out for Hunter.