Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said Atlanta is in no jeopardy of losing the team to another city, even with the controlling interest up for sale, as he told Mike Conti this morning in an appearance on Sports Radio 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, and as Conti passes along via Twitter. Still, there are many variables concerning the Hawks saga, and we’ll detail the latest here, with any additional updates on top.
- Luol Deng issued a statement on the Hawks’ “African” comments regarding him, which Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel relayed in their entirety. In the release, Deng writes, “I’m proud to say I actually have a lot of African in me, not just ‘a little’. For my entire life, my identity has been a source of pride and strength. Among my family and friends, in my country of South Sudan and across the broader continent of Africa, I can think of no greater privilege than to do what I love for a living while also representing my heritage on the highest stage. Unfortunately, the comment about my heritage was not made with the same respect and appreciation.”
- Deng continued on, writing, “Concerning my free agency, the focus should purely have been on my professionalism and my ability as an athlete. Every person should have the right to be treated with respect and evaluated as an individual, rather than be reduced to a stereotype. I am saddened and disappointed that this way of thinking still exists today. I am even more disturbed that it was shared so freely in a business setting.“
- The NBA still isn’t planning to respond to Atlanta’s punishment of Ferry with sanctions of its own, a league spokesperson reiterated today, according to Vivlamore (Twitter link).
- Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr., who in June called for GM Danny Ferry‘s dismissal, will meet today in New York with executives from the league office, tweets Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Ferry supported the idea of signing Deng and was willing to give him a $40MM deal this summer, a source tells TNT’s David Aldridge. Deng signed instead with the Heat on a two-year deal worth slightly more than $19.866MM.
- Luol Deng has told people he’s close to that the racially charged description of him that Ferry recited confuses him, and that he doesn’t want to comment until he has a better handle on the situation, Aldridge reports in the same piece. Ron Shade, one of the agents for Deng, told Michael Lee of The Washington Post that it’s “a little disheartening” to hear of Ferry’s remarks but downplayed their effect on Deng’s frame of mind heading into the season.
- It’s believed that Ed Peskowitz, who owns a non-controlling stake in the Hawks, will sell his share of the team, as Aldridge writes in his article. Peskowitz is a longtime business associate of outgoing controlling owner Bruce Levenson.
- Levenson and Gearon haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but in light of Gearon’s call for Ferry’s dismissal, it’s tough to see how Ferry can stay in his job, argues Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
- Fellow Journal-Constitution scribe Mark Bradley echoes that sentiment and notes that Gearon, who used to be the team’s controlling owner, is believed to hold more shares of the Hawks than anyone else, even though he, like Levenson, does not own a majority stake.
- A chastened atmosphere in the wake of the Donald Sterling episode puts all racially charged comments in the line of fire, whether or not the remarks were meant to be made public, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. A scout told Deveney that many commonly use language they might not otherwise as they compile scouting reports in an effort to make their points quickly and memorably.