Hawks Rumors: Monday

The revelation that Hawks owner Bruce Levenson has decided to sell the team because of a racially charged email that he sent is sending ripples throughout the league. We rounded up Sunday evening’s dispatches related to Levenson in this post, and we’ll track the latest developments throughout today right here, with additional updates at the top:

4:46pm update:

  • NBPA acting director Ron Klempner issued a statement on the Hawks situation to reporters, including USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt (on Twitter).  The statement reads: “We’ve had continuing discussions with the league office about the incidents of disturbing statements attributed to representatives of the Atlanta Hawks’ franchise.  We recognize that there is an ongoing investigation regarding the circumstances, and we will continue to monitor these events and take any action we deem appropriate.”
  • Meanwhile, Zillgitt hears (link) that the comments read by Ferry on the Deng background report were the extent of his comments on the player’s race.

11:55am update:

  • The NBA does not plan to give Ferry additional punishment on top of what the Hawks are already doling out, Vivlamore reports (on Twitter).

11:53am update:

  • Ferry made contact with Ron Shade, one of Deng’s agents, to apologize, and he’s reached out to Deng, too, Wojnarowski tweets.

11:48am update:

  • Ferry met with Hawks coaches and players Sunday and apologized as he told them what he said about Deng, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. A source disclosed Ferry’s statement about Deng to Wojnarowski. “He’s still a young guy overall,” Ferry said of Deng, according to Wojnarowski’s source. “He’s a good guy overall. But he’s not perfect. He’s got some African in him. And I don’t say that in a bad way.”
  • The NBA and officials from the Hawks helped convince Levenson to sell the team, Wojnarowski writes, which seems to conflict with Windhorst’s report that Levenson chose to sell the team on his own volition.

11:07am update:

  • The Hawks are set to discipline Ferry, but it’s unclear if the NBA will also levy a punishment against the GM, Vivlamore reports. A person involved tells Vivlamore that they had “never heard a comment as offensive” as the one directed at Deng. The person who wrote the report that Ferry read was not with the Hawks organization, as Koonin says to Vivlamore.

9:06am update:

  • The NBA isn’t interested in having the Hawks move to Seattle or elsewhere, Mannix hears (Twitter link). The team’s lease at the arena in Atlanta, which runs through 2017/18 as Windhorst pointed out in his story, would also help forestall a move, Mannix says.

8:59am update:

  • Luol Deng is the player who was the subject of the background report that contained an offensive and racist remark that Hawks GM Danny Ferry read, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). That report sparked the investigation that uncovered Levenson’s email.
  • Ferry faces discipline, but he will remain GM of the team, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com hears.
  • Prospective buyers are already inundating Hawks CEO Steve Koonin with calls, as he tells Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I had over seven phone calls directly today from multi-billionaires,” Koonin said. “It blew my mind some of the people who wrote me today.” The league, rather than Levenson, will take the lead in conducting the sale, as Windhorst writes in his piece. It’s unclear how much of a role Koonin, who owns a share of the Hawks and who has been placed in charge of the team in Levenson’s stead, will play in finding a new controlling owner.
  • Levenson made the choice to sell on his own, believing that his racially charged email would become public and that it would hurt business if he continued as owner, Windhorst writes. But an executive for another team tells Chris Mannix of SI.com that he believes Levenson is using the affair as an excuse to cash in on skyrocketing franchise values.
  • Players and people around the league generally liked Levenson prior to Sunday’s revelation, according to Windhorst. However, Koonin told CNN’s Martin Savidge that he was “morified and angry” about the email, and that when he met with Hawks players Sunday night, “It was like walking into a funeral,” as CNN’s Eliott C. McLaughlin and Holly Yan pass along. “These are young men who wear our city’s name and our logo on their chest,” Koonin said. “They play for a team, and they are supposed to be supported by their ownership. And ownership failed in supporting them.”
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