Hawks GM Danny Ferry is not expected to return to his job from the indefinite leave of absence he took last month, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes at the end of his full story on Chris Webber‘s bid for an ownership stake in the franchise. Controlling owner Bruce Levensen and his partners are selling what amounts to a 50.1% share of the franchise, and new owners often make changes in their front offices. The racially derogatory remarks about Luol Deng that Ferry read from a scouting report in a June conference call with Hawks owners precipitated his leave of absence and would presumably make Ferry’s job security especially tenuous once a new owner is in place. Still, Wojnarowski’s report is the most significant indication to date that Ferry doesn’t appear long for Atlanta.
Deng has forgiven Ferry for repeating the scouting report’s comments, and several of Ferry’s longtime associates, including former teammate Tim Duncan, have come to his defense. Commissioner Adam Silver has said he believes Ferry is wise to have taken a leave of absence, though he’s also said that he doesn’t believe the executive has committed any offense that would warrant termination. Still others, including Carmelo Anthony, have said that the entirety of the scandal, which germinates from a racially charged email that Levenson sent in 2012, has left them with a negative perception of the Hawks.
Coach Mike Budenholzer is serving as interim GM while CEO Steve Koonin is running the franchise in Levenson’s stead. A report earlier this month indicated that the team is likely to be sold by the end of the year, though another dispatch from later that same day indicated that it was premature to set such a timetable. Webber is part of a group of bidders that includes more significant financial backing from others, though the identity of the primary investors remains unclear, according to Wojnarowski. The former player would like to become a “prominent figure” in the team’s basketball operations, Wojnarowski writes, though it’s unclear just what sort of role he’s targeting and whether he would want Ferry to return as GM. Hawks executive Dominique Wilkins has also expressed a desire to be part of an ownership group for the franchise, though it’s unclear if he still wants that in the wake of his recent promotion within the team’s front office.