Former Madison Square Garden president Steve Mills is the top candidate to become the next executive director of the players union, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. The position has been vacant since the All-Star break, when the union let go of longtime chief Billy Hunter. Ric Bucher of 95.7 The Game reported last week that the union had expressed interest in Mills, who also served as an executive vice president of the Knicks and has worked for the league. Part of that interest stems from Mills' knowledge of the other side of the negotiating table.
Hunter had been running the players association for 17 years, so the process of hiring his successor is a new one for most, if not all, involved. Agent Arn Tellem, speaking at the time of Hunter's ouster, advised the players to take their time in making the decision, and it appears they've heeded his suggestion. Names that have been linked to the open job include NHL Players Association executive director and former baseball union chief Don Fehr, as well as B. Todd Jones, the Minnesota attorney general and acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Hunter's controversial dismissal prompted him to file suit earlier this month against the union, president Derek Fisher, and Fisher's publicist, alleging defamation and breach of contract, among other charges. None of the parties named in the suit have responded, and no court date has been set.
Mills is currently CEO of Athletes & Entertainers Wealth Management Group. Union attorney Ron Klempner is serving as interim executive director while the search continues, though it's unclear whether he'll be considered to permanently take over the post.