James Jones now dealing with two courts

MIAMI —    James Jones had planned to eventually put his finance degree from the University of Miami to use.

He just didn't expect the timing to coincide with a potential championship run.

Of course, if anyone can multitask, it's the Miami Heat's 3-point specialist. Last season's run to the NBA Finals provided ample practice, if not necessarily on par to the current challenge.

A year ago, amid the Heat's two-month postseason journey, Jones was kept abreast of NBA labor negotiations, in his role as secretary-treasurer of the National Basketball Players Association. This time, he has been charged with arranging a union audit amid the current acrimony between union executive director Billy Hunter and union president Derek Fisher, the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard, acrimony that has led to an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan.

Jones said as treasurer it's his obligation to assist the union's executive board, no matter the timing. But he said like last season, he would not allow union business stand in the way of the greater goal.“

I’ll be involved," he said of the increasingly ugly fracture within the union, "but it's not like CBA negotiations, where you have to fly to New York and you have to be in a meeting room for nine or 10 days. It's more of just communicating via telephone via email and putting the right people in place."

The situation has grown so divisive that his fellow players selected Jones because of their respect for his organizational skills.

"The timing was an issue, in general, and unfortunately Derek didn't seem to give us that consideration when he brought all these allegations against the union," said Washington Wizards guard Maurice Evans, a union vice-president. "Therefore, we had to address the matter urgently and we had to form a subcommittee and James is the treasurer of the executive committee."

Jones heads a subcommittee that also includes San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner, the University of Florida product, and journeyman center Etan Thomas.

This, of course, is heady stuff for a player who also has to keep his head in the game at the most important time of the season.

That has the union's executive committee appreciative of the delicate balance for players such as Jones and Bonner, whose teams are in the playoffs.

"We're not overextending James in any way," Evans said following Thursday's season finale at the Verizon Center. "We're very cognizant of the fact that they're contending for a championship and we would rather them focus on the playoffs. They earned that right. We don't in any way want to hinder their ability to try to contend for a championship."

Amid word of the extent of Hunter's payments to family members and their firms, Jones finds himself in the middle of something seemingly tawdry.

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