Billy Hunter Rumors
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers teammate James Jones and Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul have been served with notices of deposition in former NBA Player’s Union executive director Billy Hunter’s wrongful termination lawsuit against the NBPA, sources said Thursday. Paul operates as union president, James as vice president and Jones as secretary treasurer. Hunter is suing the NBPA for $10.5 million in addition to attorney’s fees, for compensation he did not receive after his ouster in February 2013.
In addition to the deposition notices served by Hunter’s legal team, California Superior Court judge Judge Huey Cotton has ordered the NBPA to turn over the documents regarding an investigation conducted by law firm Paul Weiss into Hunter’s reign as executive director, a review that preceded Hunter’s ouster. According to a Sports Business Daily report, Cotton has also ordered the union to pay $30,550 in sanctions for failing to comply with a previous order to turn over documents.
“Just that I always acted in the best interests of the players,” Hunter told CBS Sports in his first interview since he was removed from his post under a cloud of suspicion. “I always put their interests first.” Hunter seems smaller, and his voice is softer now, though somehow he’s no less bombastic. He’s always been a fighter; an underdog in the perpetual tug-of-war with billionaire owners and the NBA’s army of lawyers. As the league prepares for a monumental and chaotic free-agency period that begins Friday at 12:01 a.m. ET, Hunter feels at once vindicated and victimized.
When the league’s nine-year, $24 billion TV deal begins hitting the system with the dawn of the new league year on Friday, a period of unprecedented spending will commence. By next summer, LeBron James will shatter Michael Jordan’s league record annual salary of $33.1 million in what will be the first $200 million player contract in NBA history. “That’s why the owners are crying,” Hunter said. “… Ironically, some agents have called me now who wanted my head before and they thanked me for the deal. They said it’s been very lucrative for the players.”
“The one thing that I do remember saying to the players was that we had to be conscious of the fact that the revenues were going to jump significantly because of the TV money,” Hunter said. “And I’d said that I knew that it would at least double; I didn’t expect it to triple, but I knew that it would at least double. … It’s not credible for the NBA to make that claim.” The league office had no comment on Hunter’s assertion. But while the league office also thought at the time it was plausible for broadcast rights fees to double, neither side expected them to triple — an outcome that is about to flood the system with about $1 billion in salary cap room. Hunter’s successor, Roberts, rejected the league’s proposal to smooth the additional money into the player compensation pool.