1:57pm: Vivlamore clarifies in a full story that Levenson, Peskowitz and Foreman intend to sell their 50.1% of the club, but the reason the percentage of the team up for sale is not clear is because it’s unknown whether the Gearons or any of the other owners who hold minority shares intend to sell. It would be premature to target the end of the year for completion of the sale, Vivlamore adds, noting that the city of Atlanta has no authority over the sale of the team and little to do with the mechanics of the ownership transfer, in spite of Reed’s meetings with Silver, Levenson and others. There is indeed plenty of interest from potential buyers, but most are merely making inquiries about the sale process at this point and aren’t yet talking terms, Vivlamore says.
11:39am: Commissioner Adam Silver assured Reed last week that the league is committed to keeping the Hawks in Atlanta, as Reed relayed today to media, including The Associated Press. Reed also expressed hope that the team will indeed have a new owner by year’s end.
10:54am: It’s unclear just what percentage of the team is up for sale, tweets Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A buyer could have the majority of the team with the purchase of Levenson’s, Peskowitz’s and Foreman’s full stakes, since that would constitute 50.1% of the club. However, a purchase of less than that could presumably put Michael Gearon Sr. and Michael Gearon Jr., who control a combined 42%, in charge, though that’s just my speculation.
9:00am: The Hawks are likely to be sold by year’s end, at a price point that falls somewhere in between the $550MM the Bucks went for in the spring and the bloated $2 billion that Steve Ballmer paid for the Clippers, a source tells Michael Wallace of ESPN.com. In the meantime, several agents who spoke to Wallace are concerned about the front office situation, suggesting that the lingering effects of the controversy surrounding the team and GM Danny Ferry‘s indefinite absence will affect the team’s ability to make roster moves.
Controlling owner Bruce Levenson, along with partners Ed Peskowitz and Todd Foreman, are selling their shares of the team, which make up a collective 50.1% stake in the franchise, after revelations of a racially charged email prompted Levenson to relinquish his ownership. The balance between the efforts of Levenson and his partners to find a buyer against the league’s involvement in the sale is unclear, but the city of Atlanta is part of the process. Mayor Kasim Reed said last month that he had spoken with six prospective buyers. Hawks executive Dominique Wilkins has expressed interest in buying the team, likely in the role of front man for an investment group, though it’s not certain whether his recent promotion is a signal that he’s close to taking any sort of ownership role.
Coach Mike Budenholzer has taken over the GM duties for Ferry, whose racially charged remarks about Luol Deng prompted his indefinite leave, but Budenholzer dismisses the notion that juggling two jobs would leave the Hawks in a tenuous position, as he expressed to Wallace. The ESPN scribe also indicates that assistant GM Wes Wilcox is playing a prominent role.
“I feel like there’s not a huge difference, to be honest with you,” Budenholzer said to Wallace. “Preparing for camp and little things that needed to be decided — who’s coming, who’s not, where we’re staying — so there’s a few of those conversations that impact my day. A few more people are probably coming into my office than prior. It gives me a comfort level when I think I’ve been involved in a [Spurs] program where the assistants and coaches have had a lot of input. R.C. [Buford] and [Gregg] Popovich, those guys were amazing about listening. They valued our opinions. And now, I value everybody’s opinion.”
The agents who expressed their concerns to Wallace about the structure of the front office emphasized the effect as it applied to trades involving players on high-dollar or long-term deals, but such moves rarely happen at this point of the year. Closing the sale by December would allow the new ownership to have their staff in place in advance of the February 19th trade deadline, when more significant moves more commonly occur.