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.