Ex-Morgan Stanley Director McKnight Said Up for NBA Union

Riche T. McKnight, a partner at the law firm of Winston & Strawn and a former executive director in the Morgan Stanley litigation department, is among the candidates to succeed ousted NBA Players Association chief Billy Hunter, two people with direct knowledge of the search said.

The people were granted anonymity because the process isn’t public. McKnight declined to comment in a telephone interview.

McKnight was extensively involved in litigation arising from the financial crisis, including those pertaining to subprime mortgages and collateralized debt obligation, according to his law firm bio.

He was also part of a team that represented individual National Basketball Association players in antitrust litigation against the league and its clubs, and advised baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers in their bankruptcy case, according to the bio.

The union hired Reilly Partners, a Chicago-based executive search firm, in September to find a replacement for Hunter.

Reilly Partners spokeswoman Allison Mack said in a telephone interview that the firm wouldn’t comment on the search. Ron Klempner, the New York-based union’s acting executive director, in a telephone interview said the process is under way but declined to comment on any specific candidates.

Jeffrey Kessler, the union’s outside counsel, is a partner at Winston & Strawn. He declined to comment on McKnight, who received his undergraduate degree in public policy from Duke University and his law degree from the University of Virginia.

Hunter Firing

Hunter was fired amid allegations of nepotism and abuse of union resources. Player representatives from 24 of the 30 teams voted unanimously in February to remove Hunter, ending the former federal prosecutor’s 16-year tenure. He was making $3 million annually.

Hunter’s dismissal ended almost a year of speculation about his future with the association, punctuated by the results of an audit of the union conducted by New York-based law firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison. The review concluded that, while Hunter did nothing illegal, he failed to manage conflicts of interest, lacked proper corporate governance and didn’t disclose that his contract wasn’t properly ratified.

The union hasn’t given a timetable to name Hunter’s replacement.