The Hawks have nominated Mike Budenholzer, and not Danny Ferry, for the Executive of the Year award, reports Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a move that’s displeased some executives around the league, Hoops Rumors has learned. Budenholzer has been doubling as coach and head of basketball operations for the team since Ferry, Atlanta’s GM, went on an indefinite leave of absence in September, shortly after the revelation of racially insensitive remarks Ferry made about Luol Deng. Still, most of the moves that set up the Eastern Conference leading roster came under Ferry’s watch.
Executives vote for the award winner from among their ranks. There’s no place on the ballot for write-in candidates, a league source told Hoops Rumors, adding that some GMs who wanted the chance to vote for Ferry have spoken about abstaining from the vote as a silent protest of sorts.
Many people around the league feel as though Ferry would have been a shoo-in for the award, Vivlamore writes. Chris Crouse of Hoops Rumors profiled Ferry’s Executive of the Year candidacy last month. The GM’s future with the organization is unclear, though Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote in October that Ferry was not expected to return. His fate ultimately appears up to whomever controls the team once it’s sold, as Hawks ownership has put 100% of the franchise on the market. One of the current owners, Michael Gearon Jr., reportedly pressed for Ferry’s dismissal, though Gearon doesn’t hold the controlling stake in the team. Legendary Hawks player Dominique Wilkins, now a Hawks executive and prospective owner, hasn’t been enamored with Ferry ever since he tried to block the construction of a statue in Wilkins’ honor, as the Journal-Constitution’s Jeff Schultz recently wrote.
Budenholzer has replaced Ferry as the person with the final say in the front office this season, but the team has employed the same collaborative approach. Budenholzer, assistant GM Wes Wilcox and the rest of the basketball operations staff have all met to come to a consensus when the team has considered its moves this year, but that’s not unlike what took place when Ferry was present, as Vivlamore said in an interview with Hoops Rumors.