Having restructured their front office, the Hawks are in the market for a new top basketball executive, and according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Twitter), league sources suggest that David Griffin and Joe Dumars are expected to emerge as candidates for that job.
Mike Budenholzer had previously served as the president of basketball operations in Atlanta, but relinquished that title and will simply be the club’s head coach going forward. Meanwhile, Wes Wilcox was the Hawks’ general manager, but will now serve as a special advisor to team ownership. Both Budenholzer and Wilcox are expected to have a say in personnel decisions, but the Hawks are on the lookout for someone who will have the final say.
Griffin has emerged as the most popular front office target around the league early in the 2017 offseason. Despite playing a significant role in building the Cavaliers’ roster, the GM is on an expiring deal with the defending champs, and contract talks between the two sides have reportedly stalled. That has opened the door for rival suitors to prepare pitches for Griffin. In addition to the Hawks, the Magic are believed to have the Cavs GM high on their wish list, though those teams won’t be able to talk to him until Cleveland’s season ends.
As for Dumars, the Pistons’ former president of basketball operations stepped down from that role in 2014. During his time in Detroit, he helped lead the club to a 595–536 (.527) regular-season record, 73 postseason wins, and an NBA championship in 2004, and was named Executive of the Year in 2003. In recent years, he has been linked most frequently to the Pelicans’ front office, should New Orleans decide to shake things up.
As Stein observes (via Twitter), Hawks minority owner Grant Hill, who was expected to have a hand in the team’s search for a new executive, has ties to both Griffin and Dumars. Griffin worked in the Suns’ basketball operations department when Hill was in Phoenix as a player, and Dumars played with Hill in Detroit.
Earlier today, Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler said that he hopes to have a GM in place before June’s draft, though he has confidence in the current basketball operations department to handle things in the coming weeks. Ressler added that he hopes Wilcox remains with the Hawks in his new role, admitting that the former GM will have many other options around the NBA (all Twitter links via David Aldridge of NBA.com).