Former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien is looking to form a group of investors to purchase the Hawks, reports Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal (Twitter link). He joins former players Dominique Wilkins, Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Webber and attorney Doug Davis among those with apparent interest in owning the franchise. Controlling owner Bruce Levenson is seeking to unload his stake following the discovery of an email with racial overtones that he sent in 2012.
Levien parted ways with the Grizzlies this spring, reportedly after tension had built for months between him and owner Robert Pera. The Grizzlies had entrusted Levien with running their basketball operations when Pera bought the team two years ago, and he’d pushed for an analytics-driven movement that led to a split with then-coach Lionel Hollins. Levien had worked in the Kings front office and was a minority shareholder of the Sixers prior to joining the Grizzlies, and he currently owns the D.C. United of Major League Soccer.
Much is still undetermined surrounding the fate of the Hawks franchise, as the team’s ownership group has yet to decide just how much of the club will go up for sale. Levenson and his partners own 50.1% of it and can force the sale of up to 60%, but the NBA seems to be pressuring all of the Hawks owners to give up their stakes, as Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote last week. A report from Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal this week indicated that the full franchise would sell for between $750MM and $1 billion.