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NBA players union to finally elect new leader as Kevin Johnson exits process

Being mayor, player aided Johnson in Sterling push

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In this photo taken on April 29, 2014, Sacramento, Calif., Mayor Kevin Johnson speaks to reporters after his comments about the penalties imposed on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling by the NBA at a news conference at Los Angeles City Hall. Last year Johnson almost single-handedly kept the Kings NBA franchise in Sacramento, staging a late-game comeback to snatch the team away from a Seattle billionaire. This spring he began raising his national political profile by taking over as the head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, then acting as spokesman for the NBA players as the controversy over racist remarks by the Clippers' owner threatened to throw the basketball league into turmoil. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Advisory search committee chairman Kevin Johnson lost a power struggle with the National Basketball Players Association executive committee and will be absent on Monday when a new executive director is elected in Las Vegas, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The three candidates are Dallas Mavericks CEO Terdema Ussery, Washington D.C. attorney Michele Johnson and Dean Garfield, president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, sources told Yahoo Sports.

Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento and a former Phoenix Suns guard, had wanted to play a larger controlling role in the Monday meetings to present three finalists for the job, and executive committee members balked at the idea, citing U.S. Department of Labor regulations and NBPA bylaws, sources said.

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Clippers guard Chris Paul is president of the Players Association. (AP)

Clippers guard Chris Paul is president of the Players Association. (AP)

Johnson sent an abrupt email to player agents on Friday evening, telling them his committee was "no longer involved in the search process," and "while we'd hoped to help bring this to completion, it's clear that won't be possible."

Johnson had an invitation to join the election proceedings on Monday in Las Vegas, but as one source said, "wanted no part out of it, he bailed."

For the Players Association, this has turned into one more dysfunctional episode in years of mismanagement and inefficiency.

NBPA president Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers had a strong relationship with Johnson, but there was less support of Johnson within the executive committee, sources said.

Johnson had moved into the forefront of the NBPA in the aftermath of the Donald Sterling fiasco, and became empowered to coordinate the search process for the vacant executive director's job. Johnson had been a star player in the NBA, but some prominent players and agents in the union wondered how compromised he could've been dealing with the NBA, given that it was largely former NBA commissioner David Stern and current commissioner Adam Silver's will that helped him score a huge political victory in keeping the Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle.

There had been tension between Johnson's committee and the player-elected executive committee for the past few months and it bubbled over in talks this past week, sources said.

The players will vote on deposed executive director Billy Hunter's successor on Monday night in Las Vegas, after each of the three candidates makes a 45-minute presentation.

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