Earlier this week, we learned that the Magic are bringing Seth Curry, younger brother of Stephen Curry, in for training camp. Curry had reportedly been weighing overseas opportunities earlier this summer, but he’ll try to stick in Orlando instead. More out of the Southeast Division..
- In today’s mailbag, a reader suggests to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel that former Heat forward Michael Beasley could become a superstar under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich if he signs in San Antonio. The Spurs have found a way to make things work with guys like Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson that didn’t fit elsewhere, so Winderman could see Beasley enjoying a career renaissance in San Antonio.
- The Hawks have dominated NBA headlines in recent weeks but in-fighting amongst their ownership has been going on for years, as Mike Tierney of the New York Times writes. Tierney noes that a year after the current ownership group took over, managing partner Steve Belkin blocked a trade for Joe Johnson that had been negotiated by GM Billy Knight and was favored by Belkin’s colleagues. The dispute wound up in court and Belkin finally sold his share of the team after five long years of bickering.
- Even though the Heat‘s D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, is still without a head coach, recent hires Chris Quinn and Octavio De La Grana figure to have a hand in the club’s operations, writes Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside.
The league’s players have mixed opinions on whether or not they would consider signing with the Hawks, Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report writes. The majority of players polled agreed with Carmelo Anthony‘s assessment that players would avoid signing with Atlanta in the wake of GM Danny Ferry and majority owner Bruce Levenson’s racist remarks, notes Bucher. But there were a few that said they wouldn’t let the incident get in the way of their potential earnings, but also added that they “wouldn’t shake Ferry’s hand” when the deal was completed.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Former Rutgers star and NBA player Quincy Douby has signed with the Tianjin Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association, according to his agent Bill Neff, Zach Links of Hoops Rumors reports (Twitter link). Douby last appeared in the NBA during the 2008/09 season with the Raptors.
- The partial guarantee on Khem Birch‘s two-year deal with the Heat is worth $50K, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.
- Keith Smart and Chris Quinn have been added as assistant coaches to Eric Spoelstra‘s staff with the Heat, the team announced.
- The Bulls are hoping for a healthy season out of Derrick Rose, and that their new additions of Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott will help them contend in the Eastern Conference. The crew over at Basketball Insiders previews the upcoming season, and the majority opinion is that Chicago will finish second in the Central Division.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
It’s been a tumultuous and unusual offseason, as a pair of race-related scandals have rocked the league’s front offices. The tempest surrounding the Clippers appears to be mostly in the past, with Steve Ballmer firmly in control of the franchise, but the Hawks remain in limbo, with GM Danny Ferry on indefinite leave and the primary stake in the team up for sale. The league “can’t have another summer like we’ve had this year,” as longtime executive Wayne Embry tells Michael Lee of The Washington Post, so while we wait for clarity from Atlanta, here’s the latest on the Hawks situation:
- Gearon Jr. approached Levenson about selling the franchise within the past year, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, who adds that the controlling owner wasn’t interested at that time.
- According to Zillgitt’s sources, Gearon Jr. and Ferry have long been at odds. Ferry was originally hesitant to take the job as Hawks GM before Levenson alleviated his concerns about the front office working environment by making it clear Ferry would report directly to him.
- The resulting working relationship between Levenson and Ferry bothered Gearon Jr., who called for Ferry’s dismissal via a letter to Levenson after the GM’s racist comments were discovered internally: “If Ferry’s comments are ever made public, and it’s a safe bet they will someday, it could be fatal to the franchise.”
- Only a brief snippet of the audio recorded by Gearon Jr. has been made available and there is no full transcript of the call, Zillgitt reports. The NBA has requested a full transcript but one has not been provided.
- Also in the letter from Gearon Jr. to Levenson were accusations that Ferry wasn’t mindful of maintaining racial diversity within the organization: “The racial diversity of our management team has changed for the worse since Ferry took over.” Zillgitt challenges those claims citing statistics from the 2014 Racial and Gender Report Card for the NBA and also hears from an owner, presumably from another NBA team, who expressed concern over the prospect of Gearon Jr. becoming the controlling owner in Atlanta. An agent told Zillgitt that he wonders whether he can trust Gearon Jr. not to record their conversations.
- Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed held a press conference today regarding the Hawks situation and the search for new ownership for the franchise. Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran down the important points from the event.
- Reed said that the city would play a role in finding new ownership for the franchise, and that he has already spoken with six potential buyers, all of whom have sufficient resources to acquire the team.
- The mayor declined to name the prospective buyers, though he did say that one is from China, Vivlamore tweets.
- In regards to the city’s role in finding new ownership, Reed said, “The city is going to play an important role in the buyer who purchases Mr. [Bruce] Levenson’s interest. Obviously, we have a vital interest as the owner of Philips Arena and the holder of the debt on Philips Arena in making sure that we get a terrific partner in the city of Atlanta. We also have an interest in making sure that the new buyer wants to keep the team in the city and in the city. Let me be clear what that means. In the city and in the city. That means that a prospective owner that receives my support, and I believe the support of the Atlanta City Council, will make a long-term commitment to keep the Atlanta Hawks in the city of Atlanta and will make a long-term commitment not to move the franchise. I want to publicly state from the city’s perspective that is going to be our perspective to whomever the prospective owners are.”
- According to Reed, Levenson, the team’s controlling owner, owns 24 percent of the Hawks individually. Along with his partners Ed Peskowitz and Todd Foreman of the Washington Group, the trio own 50.1 percent of the franchise. Both Peskowitz and Foreman intend to sell their portions of the team.
- The Atlanta contingent of owners, Michael Gearon Jr., Michael Gearon Sr., and Rutherford Seydel, intend to keep their stakes in the franchise.
- Reed relayed that the NBA has hired an investment banking firm to begin vetting prospective buyers, and he is scheduled to meet with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to discuss the sale on September 26th. Reed expects the sale process to move along quickly.
- Dominique Wilkins expressed interest in buying the Hawks, Vivlamore tweets, and that confirms a TMZ report from last week. Wilkins made only slightly more than $20MM during his playing career, according to Basketball-Reference, so presumably he’d be part of a group of investors.
- Reed also said that it’s highly unlikely that the Hawks would relocate, and that the city would need to lend assistance to keep the team in Atlanta, Vivlamore tweets.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Support is growing stronger to make both the Olympics and the World Cup of Basketball solely for players age 22 and under, one NBA GM tells Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who bemoans an existing system that he believes to primarily benefit Mike Krzyzewski. The change would take effect for 2018 World Cup, Wojnarowski writes. SB Nation’s Tom Ziller argues that while the NBA could work with FIBA to implement an age limit, FIBA has shown hesitancy to cooperate, and that the players union would have a case that any league-imposed restriction should be collectively bargained. Nonetheless, it seems there’s a decent chance that even without so many A-level stars, this year’s World Cup champion Team USA squad will be significantly more talented than the next American entry into the competition. Here’s more from around the NBA:
- Shandong of China has jumped into the race for Gustavo Ayon as his European rights remain up in the air, tweets Shams Charania of RealGM. The Spurs are reportedly still in the mix, with Ayon needing to come up with $376K to pay FC Barcelona, which holds his European rights, if he’s to put pen to paper on a deal with Spanish rival Real Madrid.
- Mike Budenholzer has never held an NBA front-office job, but he played as much of a role in talent acquisition for the Spurs as anyone outside of Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford during his time in San Antonio, writes TNT’s David Aldridge amid his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. Budenholzer is in charge of player personnel for the Hawks while GM Danny Ferry is on indefinite leave.
- A group that included Grant Hill as well as billionaires Tony Ressler and Bruce Karsh made a strong impression on the league when they put up a $1.2 billion bid to purchase the Clippers this spring, Aldridge writes in the same piece. The TNT scribe speculates that they could resurface as contenders for the Hawks.
The Heat may take a step back this season, but on an individual level, Mario Chalmers‘ father says that his son is excited about his role for the coming season, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “As sad we all are to see LeBron [James] go, Mario’s excited to go back to his natural position. He loves being a playmaker. And there will be more opportunities to score,” said Ronnie Chalmers. Here’s more out of the Southeast Division..
- Despite the controversy surrounding the Hawks and the racist comments made by owner Bruce Levenson and GM Danny Ferry, Atlanta will continue to be a free agent destination, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com opines. Blakely believes that the organization will distance themselves from the incident and people involved as quickly as possible, and players will use the departures of those involved as justification for signing with the team.
- The Heat are still looking at backup veteran centers, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (on Twitter). Miami recently signed undrafted power forward Khem Birch but their search for size is not yet through.
- The Hawks‘ issues are a matter of league-wide importance, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Beyond the very obvious problems with what went on in Atlanta, former union executive director Charles Grantham wonders aloud if teams are sharing negative information on their players to reduce their worth. Ferry reportedly received negative information on Luol Deng from another club and then mentioned it on the now infamous conference call.
Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.
Earlier today, we passed along word from coach Steve Clifford that the Hornets are seeking frontcourt help. Clifford’s interview with Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer touched on some more of Charlotte’s roster, including how he’ll use newly signed Marvin Williams. “He’ll play both forward spots, but I see him primarily as a stretch [power forward],” said Clifford. “He’s a very smart player who makes smart, simple plays. And he’s very professional in his approach.” Here’s a rundown of league news and notes, including more from Clifford:
- Clifford revealed that Jeff Taylor‘s recovery from an Achilles injury has been interfered with by a personal matter. “Unfortunately, Jeff has a family situation in Sweden [keeping him away from Charlotte],” he told Bonnell. “Nothing can be done about that and you know he’s an exceptional worker, but he’s had to miss our five optional workouts. So it’s hard to get a feel for where he’s at. He did a couple of summer-league practices. Medically he’s fine. So it’s just a matter of having more continuity, so that when he plants and cuts and jumps he’s confident [in his recovery.]“
- Milos Teodosic is an NBA-caliber player lighting up the World Cup, but the Serbian star won’t consider a move stateside unless he’s offered upwards of $3MM in annual salary, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Grizzlies were the last team to make a serious run at the point guard, when he spurned them last summer.
- Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune profiles Derrick Favors, the big man whose four-year, $48MM extension will commence this season. The center tells Jones he’s comfortable taking the next step as a franchise cornerstone for the Jazz, a sentiment GM Dennis Lindsey seconds. “This is really the second stage for Derrick,” Lindsey said. “We’ve had patience with him and he’s had a natural progression. With Derrick, nobody can accuse the Jazz of skipping steps. We know that we’re making a significant investment in him by giving him the contract extension. Derrick has taken ownership of his development.”
- The Basketball Insiders team previewed the upcoming season for the Hawks.
- J.A. Adande of ESPN.com writes that the NBA’s slowness to identify and dismiss the source of the racial slur from the scouting report on Luol Deng that triggered the Hawks scandal indicates a willingness to harbor that sentiment in the league, contrary to the commissioner’s declaration to root out racism when he first banned Donald Sterling.
This offseason won’t be remembered for anything the Hawks did to upgrade their roster, but instead the gloom of the racially charged comments from controlling owner Bruce Levenson and GM Danny Ferry will be the enduring sentiment. It’s been a busy week in Atlanta, and if you want a recap you can check out the previous updates for Monday; Tuesday; Wednesday; Thursday; and Friday. We’ll track today’s developments here, and any additional updates will be added to the top.
- In a subscription-only interview, an anonymous scout tells Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel that they’ve never seen the kind of racial stereotyping that was present in the Deng report. “I’ve never seen that before, not in a negative way,” the veteran scout said. “You might say a typical ‘European’ player, but ‘African’ has its own special connotation. It’s not neutral, and then there were the subsequent comments. I think it’s exceptionally rare. I’ve read hundreds, thousands of scouting reports. At draft time you see all the reports, and this simply does not ring a bell about a racial component. You’re always evaluating character. What’s rare is connecting character to racial stuff. That’s what was so troubling about this.”
- The scout tells Winderman that he doesn’t expect Deng’s reputation around the league to suffer from the leaked report. “All I know is one of their coaches was just ecstatic about him, coaching him,” the scout said. “The coaching staff was big on him and I think that’s more than just the fact that he was a good player. I haven’t heard anything negative. All I’ve heard is positive from their coaching staff.”
- The scout confirmed that rigorous personality scouting is considered fair game for player scouting, even to the extent of hiring a private investigator.
- Team CEO Steve Koonin released a letter apologizing for the recent incidents within the organization and acknowledged that the team’s management has let fans down. USA Today Sports’ For The Win is hosting an image of the entire piece.
- Carmelo Anthony believes the scandal will have a negative impact on the Hawks, as Tim Bontemps of the New York Post details. “[There] ain’t nobody [who] would want to go there,” said ‘Melo. “As a player, as an athlete, we’re looking for a job, we’re trying to find a place where we can move our family, we can make our family comfortable, where we can be comfortable in a comfortable environment, but those comments right there, we would never look at. I’m speaking on behalf of all athletes. We would never look at a situation like that, I don’t care what it is.“
- With Ferry taking an indefinite leave of absence, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Justin Termine of CineSport discuss his future with the franchise (video link).
- Ferry’s worst mistake, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, was that he didn’t take ownership of his comments, regardless of if he was reading them aloud, or they were his altogether. Being in charge of the franchise makes Ferry accountable for them either way, opines Wojnarowski.
- The Hawks face a number of challenges on and off the court in rebuilding their franchise’s image, writes Charles Odum of USA Today.
- Aside from the racial component, the nature of the scouting report in question covered rumors and judgments regarding Luol Deng’s character, and a widespread league scouting emphasis that targets players’ private lives and personalities, writes Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Executives and scouts tell Berger that the “dirty work” focus in scouting came about in the early 2000s, as information on college players with ever-shorter amateur careers became more scarce. Berger says that the tendencies of NBA scouts to seek information from ball boys, teammates, friends, and other non-official team sources has been mirrored by NBA reporters in seeking inside information. Berger also wonders whether African scouts will be comfortable working with Ferry if he returns to his post, but was unable to reach any for comment.
- The embarrassing dysfunction from the Hawks franchise is nothing new, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News writes, and he recounts a string of botched ownership transfers in recent decades.
- Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution thinks that Ferry’s decision to take a leave of absence has increased the GM’s odds of keeping his job in the long run.
Cray Allred contributed to this post.
Sports attorney Doug Davis, son of entertainment fixture Clive Davis, is an early candidate to purchase the Hawks, reports Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Vivlamore credits the New York Post as first to reveal that the younger Davis is assembling a potential ownership group. Davis sent out a pair of tweets that hints at his interest in the team (H/T James Herbert of CBSSports.com). Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- Former Hawk and current director of player personnel and GM for the Kings D-League affiliate Shareef Abdur-Rahim penned an open letter to Yahoo! Sports regarding the Hawks scandal. Abdur-Rahim recalls his time with Atlanta as a player as having little fan support, pointing out that African-American cheerleaders and fans weren’t the cause for a struggling franchise then, and aren’t now. “I personally interacted with both Bruce Levenson and Danny Ferry on multiple occasions; my experiences with both have always been pleasant,” said Abdur-Rahim. “However, their comments represent a lack of respect and sensitivity for individuals with different experiences and backgrounds than themselves. I pray both individuals learn from this situation and work to regain the trust of the great people of Atlanta.”
- Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution finds it suspicious that the leaked scouting report on Luol Deng was released after the audio of the conference call was leaked, although he stops short of asserting it was doctored. Schultz thinks the purity of the report is ultimately beside the point, considering Ferry’s failure to filter the offensive comments before reading them in any case. The Journal-Constitution scribe is disappointed in the shifts in the story from team brass, and believes the damage control attempted by Atlanta will ultimately prove to be more harmful than a more transparent approach would have been.
- Tobias Harris tells Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel that he wants to reach an agreement with the Magic on a rookie scale extension, but isn’t sure if a deal will be struck this fall. “Obviously, I want to be here,” said Harris. “I love the fans, the city of Orlando and the guys. Management knows I want to be here. It’s the perfect situation for me…I don’t know. That’s up to [Orlando].”
- A group of Basketball Insiders writers previewed the upcoming season for the Magic, Celtics, and Knicks.
The Luol Deng report from the RealGM scouting service that was the source of the racially charged statements that Hawks GM Danny Ferry said aloud in a June conference call contains several tidbits of collateral information on storylines surrounding Deng the past couple of years. One of the anonymous sources quoted in the report points to hard feelings Deng had toward the Bulls as they allegedly pushed him to play through injury and played hardball with an extension offer. The same source cites “major locker room issues” that existed between two Cavaliers during Deng’s tenure there, and while the names are redacted, many accounts have pointed to tension between Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. The report also pointed to interest in Deng from the Hornets, Suns, Mavs and Lakers around last year’s trade deadline. Aside from the most explosive racial comments, the report contains a few mild criticisms of Deng’s ability on the court and his persona off of it, but mostly serves to paint Deng as a valuable player and an upstanding character. While the fallout from the Hawks saga continues, here’s more from other corners of the league:
- Knicks president Phil Jackson tells Scott Cacciola of The New York Times that he and owner James Dolan didn’t speak in August and have otherwise been having only a couple conversations a month as Dolan keeps his promise not to interfere. An agent said to Cacciola that when he appealed to Dolan when Jackson wouldn’t budge in negotiations, he found the owner unwilling to provide recourse behind Jackson’s back, and Dolan insists to the Times scribe that he won’t change his ways if the team starts losing this season.
- Zoran Dragic acknowledged that playing in the NBA appeals to him but said he’s on his way to training camp with Spain’s Unicaja Malaga, as he told Gal Zbačnik of Kosarka.si (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). Dragic’s contract with the team reportedly gives him until October 5th to find an NBA deal, and several teams appear to be in pursuit.
- Delonte West has agreed to return to China on a one-year deal with the Shanghai Sharks, reports Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer (on Twitter). West, who hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2012/13 preseason, spent last year with China’s Fujian Sturgeons.
It had been a quiet offseason for the Hawks, but they wound up making waves in undesirable fashion this week as racially charged language from controlling owner Bruce Levenson and GM Danny Ferry plunged the franchise into turmoil. We’ll track today’s developments here, and any additional updates will be added to the top.
- Players union interim executive director Ron Klempner issued a statement acknowledging Ferry’s public apology to Deng. USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt provides a full transcript of the statement via Twitter. “The NBPA deplores the insensitive & thoroughly inappropriate remarks by Danny Ferry,” Klempner said in part. “We are pleased to learn that Ferry acknowledges his statements were offensive, has extended a personal apology to Luol Deng and the other Atlanta Hawks players and that the Hawks organization has determined that discipline of Ferry was warranted.”
- Kyle Korver says Deng told him he doesn’t believe Ferry or anyone with the Hawks organization is a racist, and Korver also expressed his own support for the team in an interview with Vivlamore. “My thoughts are, when I got traded to the Hawks, I didn’t want to come here because all I knew was what I had heard, about bad culture and no fans and no excitement in the city,” Korver said in part. “So I didn’t want to come to Atlanta. At all. I was bummed to leave Chicago. But by the next summer, I chose to re-sign and come back to Atlanta. After a year of watching what Danny (Ferry) was doing and the people he was bringing in. Everything I saw, was so attractive to me and I really believed in it. I believed that he was going to turn things around. I saw that Atlanta was an incredible city, and that there was so much potential here to both raise my family and help build a great basketball culture.”
- Ferry is taking an indefinite leave of absence, as we covered in a full story.
- The copy of the scouting report, as hosted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, that Ferry is to have read indicates that the information came from someone associated with the Cavs. “Con isn’t bad, but it’s there. African-like store front looks great but there’s a black market section in the back,” the report reads in part. It also attributes a “sense of entitlement” to Deng and suggests that Deng held back while with the Cavs last season to protect himself from injury before he hit free agency in the summer, and that Deng “treated Cleveland like a pit-stop.” Still, the report indicates that he’d be welcome to return to the Cavs.
- The snippet of the report that Vivlamore has posted closely resembles some of what Ferry said on the recording of the conference call. “He is a good guy on the cover but he is an African. He has a little two-step in him = says what you want to hear but behind closed doors he could be killing you,” the report stated in part.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV in Atlanta have obtained a copy of the scouting report on Deng that Ferry is to have read during the conference call, Vivlamore tweets. So, that further confirms the report’s existence and casts doubt on the notion that Ferry came up with the disparaging remarks about Deng on his own. The report does reference Deng’s African heritage, according to Vivlamore, but it’s not clear exactly what the report said at this point.
- An NBA investigator has seen the report from which Ferry is to have read the remarks about Luol Deng that touched off the controversy, a source tells USA Today’s Sam Amick. The league isn’t punishing Ferry, whom the Hawks have already disciplined, and commissioner Adam Silver has said he doesn’t think Ferry deserves to be fired. Thursday’s release of the audio from the conference call in which Ferry recited insults with racial overtones about Deng prompted widespread speculation that Ferry made the comments off the cuff, and that he wasn’t reading from a scouting report. The investigator also heard the audio before it became public, Amick reports.
- Levenson sent a sharply worded response to a letter that co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. sent to him in June in which Gearon called for Ferry’s ouster, as Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution documents within a timeline of the controversy. Levenson cited “false and misleading comments” within Gearon’s letter, and Levenson expressed reservations about continuing his partnership with Gearon. Levenson announced this past weekend that he’s selling his stake in the team.
- Boris Diaw, Channing Frye, Pau Gasol, Greg Monroe and Thabo Sefolosha were among the other players the Hawks discussed during that conference call, as Vivlamore notes in the same piece. Of those names, Sefolosha was the only one who signed with the Hawks.