FRIDAY, 11:51am: The highest bid for the Hawks franchise itself was for $800MM, a source tells Mike Ozanian of Forbes.com. The approximately $900MM figure reported earlier encompassed $112MM worth of bonds remaining from the construction of Philips Arena as well as the team, Ozanian hears.
THURSDAY, 9:45am: A part-owner of Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays and a neuropsychologist are among the people connected to at least seven groups that made preliminary bids this week to buy the Hawks, reports Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg.com. Some of the bids put out by Tuesday’s deadline to submit initial offers were for around $900MM, two sources told Soshnick, adding that the team may continue to accept offers in spite of that self-imposed deadline. Randy Frankel, who owns a minority stake in the Rays, is part of a group that includes rapper-turned-entrepreneur Jesse Itzler and brokerage firm founder Steven Starker, Soshnick hears. Dr. Richard Chaifetz, the neuropsychologist who founded a leading employee assistance firm, is partnering with Grant Hill and fellow former NBA player Junior Bridgeman in a bid for team, according to Soshnick.
Former Suns and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo is also a part of the Chaifetz-Hill-Bridgeman group, with father Jerry Colangelo acting as a senior adviser, as TNT’s David Aldridge reported last month. A wide range of names have been connected to the Hawks since Bruce Levenson, who owns a controlling stake, revealed in September that he had sent a racially charged email and announced that he was selling his share. Later, the rest of the ownership groups involved with the team agreed to sell, too. The owners of Atlanta’s WNBA team, Kelly Loeffler and Mary Brock, were also reportedly interested in bidding for the Hawks, along with their husbands, Jeffrey Sprecher and John Brock, though it’s unclear if they were among those who made preliminary offers this week. Former players Dominique Wilkins, Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Webber, former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien and attorney Doug Davis are others who’ve reportedly held interest. Investors Chris Hansen and Thomas Tull want to buy the team and move it to Seattle, but it appears highly unlikely they’ll get that chance.
The sale of the franchise, which Forbes valued at $825MM, seems destined to bring resolution to the situation surrounding GM Danny Ferry, who’s been on an indefinite leave of absence since September after it was revealed that he, too, made racially charged statements. The team Ferry built has surged to the top of the Eastern Conference with a record of 45-12 under the stewardship of coach Mike Budenholzer, who’s acting as the GM in Ferry’s stead.