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In the face of a scathing and detailed rebuke of National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Billy Hunter by an internal inquiry, Hunter was not defiant.

However, despite the internal review's conclusions that "based on the findings of this report, the NBPA should consider whether Mr. Hunter should remain as the Union's Executive Director," Hunter made clear in his statement that he does not plan to step down any time soon.

"I look forward to continuing my work with the NBPA, adopting additional recommendations from the report, and opening a new chapter of NBPA governance," Hunter said in a statement Thursday, the same day the report was released.

REPORT: Hunter not criminal or good chief

That's no surprise to those who know Hunter. He is a fighter. Always has been, as a district attorney, U.S. attorney, private lawyer for big-name clients and of course as NBPA executive director, going head-to-head with NBA Commissioner David Stern.

What next for Hunter? The internal review is complete and found no evidence of criminal activity into the NBPA's and Hunter's practices, and In his statement, Hunter said he disagreed with some of the report's findings. The Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office investigation remains ongoing.

The internal report detailed an unflattering portrait of some of Hunter's practices, including the nature in which Hunter procured his $3 million a year contract in violation of NBPA by-laws, hiring of immediate family members and lax approach to some internal affairs.

"This paints a picture of someone who didn't take his fiduciary responsibilities very seriously – the main one of which is to be open and honest and disclosed," University of Toledo law professor Geoffrey Rapp told USA TODAY Sports. "If there's a conflict of interest, bring that to the attention of the people who are in a position of checking you and your leadership and making sure you are treating the institute fairly. … His leadership is going to be under some pressure in the coming weeks and months."

READ IT YOURSELF: The entire report

If Hunter wants to continue in his position, he will begin repairing damage at All-Star Weekend Feb. 15-17 in Houston. Since the lockout ended in December of 2011, Hunter has maintained a low profile and especially since late April when reports surfaced of Hunter's questionable practices. Along with concern from NBPA president Derek Fisher, those reports led to the internal review and U.S. attorney's investigation.

Hunter is in the second year of $3 million a year deal that ends in 2015, with options in 2016 and 2017. Those are important dates remember.

The internal report recommended the NBPA begin focusing on Hunter's future in Houston. However, even that is not simple because the NBPA is in unsettled at the players' level. Of the nine executive committee members who led the NBPA through the lockout in 2011, just four are active NBA players – Miami Heat's James Jones, San Antonio Spurs' Matt Bonner, New Orleans Hornets' Roger Mason and Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul.

However, the internal report concluded that "based on our review of the By-Laws and information provided by the Union, the current Executive Committee may have only two members: Matt Bonner, who was elected as a Vice President in February 2011, for a three-year term, and Derek Fisher, who was elected as President in June 2009, for a four-year term. The terms of the other seven have either expired, or they appear no longer eligible for service because they have not been 'employed as players on any of the individual teams' this season (or both)."

The review recommended that players vote on the seven open positions in Houston so the union can concentrate on Hunter. Even though Fisher is not in the league right now, he played this season and the report states, "we believe that it is reasonable under the By-Laws to consider him a member in good standing. Further, we believe that it is appropriate for him to serve as NBPA President for the remainder of his term."

That does not bode well for Hunter. While he had and still may have strong support among players, a transition is underway starting with a relatively fresh executive committee comprised of players.

Some powerful player-agents were often unhappy with Hunter during the lockout and he fended them off. This report gives those agents more resolve to replace Hunter.

One agent told USA TODAY Sports that many agents will be satisfied as long as Hunter is not involved in the next round of collective bargaining negotiations, which could begin as early the summer of 2017 when either the league or players can opt out of the current CBA. The person requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of Hunter's situation.

The summer of 2017 coincides with the end of Hunter's contract if all option years are exercised. However, the person said if the union needs to pay Hunter to leave sooner, that's what it should do. That would give Hunter's replacement ample time to become familiar with union practices and the current CBA.

A split before the next collective bargaining negotiations makes sense. NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver is replacing Stern in February of 2014, and it would allow two new leaders to forge a relationship before serious negotiations begin.

"A report like this gives them the ammunition to say he can terminated with cause and terminated without being entitled to that full contract," Rapp said. "He's probably entitled to something, but this gives them the ground to say, 'This contract should be ripped up.' That leverage would probably allow them to negotiate a settlement."

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