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NBA players taking time picking new union head


POSTED: Feb 15, 2014 9:44 PM ET
UPDATED: Feb 15, 2014 10:04 PM ET

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— A year after ousting Billy Hunter as executive director of the union, NBA players still aren't ready to replace him.

Players held their All-Star weekend meeting Saturday and were introduced to the remaining candidates for Hunter's old job, but they aren't ready to make a decision, or even to say when they expect one.

"This process has been long but we're not in a rush," vice president Roger Mason Jr. of the Miami Heat said.

Working with the executive search firm Reilly Partners, players said they began with a list of more than 200 candidates, but wouldn't say how many remain or even if they should be considered finalists. Those who remained in the process were invited to the meeting Saturday and met with a group of about 30 players who attended.

Plans are being made to distribute a video of the meeting to additional players so they can fully informed about the candidates before one is eventually hired.

Hunter was voted out during last year's All-Star meeting, shortly after an independent review of the union was critical of a number of his business decisions and hiring practices.

Secretary-treasurer James Jones, also of the Heat, refused to speculate if a replacement would be named by the start of next season, saying that "that would be giving a timeline and so we're not into timelines."

But Mason said players aren't frustrated that a replacement hasn't yet been chosen.

"It takes time but we haven't heard any pushback on it taking too long," he said. "We want to make this a thorough, transparent process and I think our players respect that."

D-LEAGUE: Before the various challenges of NBA All-Star Saturday night got going, the best of the NBA Development League took the court in a temporary stadium set up in the city's convention center, .

The game was of particular interest to New Orleans NBA fans because of the presence of Idaho point guard Pierre Jackson, whose rights are controlled by the Pelicans.

Jackson is the D-League's leading scorer, averaging 29.1 points, and he and his agent have been lobbying hard for the Pelicans to give the 2014 second-round draft choice out of Baylor a chance to play in the NBA this season.

His problem is the Pelicans already have three point guards on the roster: Jrue Holiday, Brian Roberts and Austin Rivers, though Holiday is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his shin.

On Saturday, Jackson led the Futures team with 30 points and eight assists, hitting six 3s and going 11 of 18 from the field. However, his squad lost to the Prospects team led by game MVP Robert Covington, who scored 33 points.

Jackson was pleased he played well and hoped that only motivates Pelicans, who had several basketball operations executives and assistant coaches at the game, to give him his chance in the NBA.

"I'm waiting. The time's going to come sooner or later," Jackson said. "I've just got to stay positive and keep my head up."

Jackson didn't indicate a preference regarding how he gets promoted, be it through a trade or a call-up to New Orleans.

"I'm pretty sure they've been watching me in the D-League, keeping a close eye," Jackson said, adding that other NBA teams are interested in him. "It's all up to the Pelicans. Whatever happens, I'm looking forward to it."

Several other players with past ties to New Orleans or south Louisiana were in the game, including former Hornets Hilton Armstrong, Ike Diogu and Melvin Ely; former Pelicans center Arinze Onuaku and former LSU center Justin Hamilton.

The D-League event included a dunk contest if its own, won by Tony Mitchell. His dunks included one in which another player lobbed a blind bounce pass from up in the stands and a spinning roundhouse jam.

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