Bruce Levenson

Southeast Notes: Ferry, Budenholzer, Dragic

Mike Budenholzer and former Hawks GM Danny Ferry are close, but Budenholzer encouraged Ferry to resign in September 2014 so that the Hawks could more easily put their racism scandal behind them before the opening of training camp last season, report Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of Their piece goes deep into the downfall of Ferry, who instead went on a leave of absence that extended until he took a buyout this past summer, and the team’s previous ownership group, one that had lost money each year since it purchased the franchise in 2004, Arnovitz and Windhorst reveal. Former controlling owner Bruce Levenson had nonetheless structured a long-term deal for Ferry when he hired the executive, one that other GMs called the “Golden Ticket” for its favorability to the former Spurs and Cavs executive, Arnovitz and Windhorst write. Prominent co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. opposed that deal and never saw eye-to-eye with Ferry, who upset him on several occasions, such as when Ferry had harsh words for former coach Larry Drew, according to Arnovitz and Windhorst.

See more on the Hawks amid the latest from the Southeast Division:

  • Gearon didn’t initially take issue with the tenor of Levenson’s racially charged 2012 email — the one that ultimately led to his decision to sell the team, as Arnovitz and Windhorst detail in the same piece. Gearon instead put pressure on Levenson when the email again came up amid an internal investigation that Ferry’s racial comments touched off, and when a reporter was coming close to breaking the story of the scandal, Levenson decided to take a proactive step and announce his intention to sell, the ESPN scribes recount. Levenson remained a fan of Ferry and nearly brought him back before the sale took place, but the team’s renaissance worked against that, as Levenson decided too much was going right to risk disruption.
  • Goran Dragic is wistful about no longer playing with his brother, but he re-signed with the Heat without assurances they would keep Zoran Dragic and was on board when the team traded him, as he explains to Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post“I was sad, of course,” Goran said of the trade. “I know how much he wants to be part of a team in the NBA, but I understand this is a business. That’s a better situation for him right now. He’s gonna get playing time. He signed a good deal in Russia. He’s happy. That’s a good thing. Sometimes, for me, when you play with your brother, sometimes it’s a little bit stressful because if he’s not getting playing time, it affects you too. But everything’s good now.”
  • Jaleel Roberts didn’t think he would end up in training camp with the Wizards after he failed to wow them with his summer league performance, but he’s grateful for the opportunity after an overseas offer didn’t pan out as he expected it to, writes J. Michael of

League OKs Tony Ressler’s Purchase Of Hawks

Private equity mogul Tony Ressler and his partners have officially assumed control of the Hawks after receiving unanimous Board of Governors approval today, the league announced. Controlling owner Bruce Levenson, who last September announced his decision to sell as he self-reported racially insensitive emails that he had sent in 2012, and the rest of an often-divided consortium of co-owners have relinquished the team in the $730MM deal. The Ressler group is also assuming some $120MM in arena-related debt, raising the total purchase price to $850MM, as several reports made clear in April, when Ressler and his partners secured an agreement to buy the team. USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt reported a few days ago that league approval and the transfer would take place today.

“We are pleased that the NBA’s Board of Governors has approved the purchase of the Atlanta Hawks by principal owner Tony Ressler,” commissioner Adam Silver said.  “Tony and his diverse and experienced ownership group will bring tremendous energy and passion to the Hawks and the team and its fans will greatly benefit from their commitment to the Atlanta community.”

Former player Grant Hill, private equity investor Rick Schnall, women’s wear magnate Sara Blakely and her husband, entrepreneur Jesse Itzler, are among those in Ressler’s group. They beat out another bid that reportedly involved baseball legend Hank Aaron as well as former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien and current Grizzlies minority owner Steve Kaplan. Former Suns and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, former player Junior Bridgeman and neuropsychologist Richard Chaifetz also apparently teamed for a run at the Hawks as part of a bid that once included Hill.

The new owners appear poised to work on a deal that would make Mike Budenholzer team president and coach, as well as one that would give assistant GM Wes Wilcox a promotion to GM, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported last week. Former GM Danny Ferry received a buyout earlier this week that gave him more than he would have received over the remainder of his contract, according to Kevin Arnovitz of Ferry had been on a leave of absence since September that he began after the revelation that he repeated racially charged comments about Luol Deng that had been written in a scouting report from an outside firm. The departures of Ferry and Levenson allow the team to move on from the scandal that hung in the background amid the team’s 60-win season.

Ressler and the front office face a challenge this summer to retain both Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll with only Early Bird rights on them and perhaps not enough cap space to meet their collective market price, as I examined in our Offseason Outlook for the team. Atlanta holds the 15th, 50th and 59th picks in Thursday’s draft.

Tony Ressler Finalizes Deal To Buy Hawks

7:04pm: The Hawks announced in a press release that a definitive agreement has been signed for the purchase of the team by the group fronted by Ressler. “We are honored and thrilled to have been chosen to become the new stewards of the Hawks,” said Ressler. “We respect the NBA’s approval process and, accordingly, can say no more other than we are incredibly excited by the Hawks’ success and wish them luck in the playoffs.” The sale, which also includes operation of Philips Arena, requires the approval of the NBA Board of Governors before it can be finalized.

The statement lists Hill, Itzler, and private equity investor Rick Schnall as members of the group, as well as clothing entrepreneur Sara Blakely, who is married to Itzler. Starker and Frankel aren’t listed.

2:50pm: Michael Gearon Jr., who currently owns a minority share of the team, will keep a small percentage of the Hawks, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Gearon reportedly pressed for Ferry’s dismissal this past June.

2:14pm: Shelburne, Soshnick and Kevin Arnovitz of all indicate that the Ressler group will assume debt as part of the deal (All Twitter links). Soshnick refers to it as about $120MM worth of arena debt, and Arnovitz says the total price, debt included, will come to approximately $850MM. So that seems to back up Soshnick’s original $730MM figure, which appears to represent the cost of the team itself.

1:35pm: The price will be somewhere between $750MM and $900MM, according to Wojnarowski, who writes in a full story.

1:32pm: A sale price of more than $800MM will be announced soon, as Ramona Shelburne of hears (Twitter link). The new owners plan to keep CEO Steve Koonin and coach/acting GM Mike Budenholzer aboard, Shelburne adds. The disparity between the figures may be related to $112MM worth of bonds left over from the construction of Philips Arena, a point Mike Ozanian of made earlier when there was about $100MM difference between reported amounts of the preliminary bidding figures.

1:20pm: The Ressler group is paying $730MM for the team, reports Scott Soshnick of (Twitter link). That’s somewhat lower than the roughly $800MM figure previously reported for preliminary bids.

12:56pm: Private equity mogul Tony Ressler is finalizing a deal with Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson to buy the team for a price of less than $1 billion, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter links). Ressler’s bidding group reportedly includes Grant Hill. Brokerage firm founder Steven Starker and rapper-turned-entrepreneur Jesse Itzler have also been a part of the bid, as has Tampa Bay Rays part owner Randy Frankel. Ressler recently replaced investor and Lionsgate Entertainment chairman Mark Rachesky as the leader of the group that was pitted against a bid that involved baseball legend Hank Aaron as well as former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien and current Grizzlies minority owner Steve Kaplan.

Ressler was a late comer to the Hawks bidding, but he and Hill were part of a group that made a strong impression on the league when they put in a $1.2 billion bid for the Clippers, as TNT’s David Aldridge wrote in September, speculating then that Ressler and Hill could end up going after the Hawks. Hill reportedly left another group that included former Suns and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, former player Junior Bridgeman and neuropsychologist Richard Chaifetz to join the Ressler bid.

Levenson announced in September that he would sell his share of the team as he self-reported racially insensitive emails that he had sent in 2012. The rest of the owners later agreed to put 100% of the franchise on the block. GM Danny Ferry‘s fate also seems tied to the sale, as he’s been on indefinite leave of absence since his own racially charged remarks about Luol Deng surfaced.

Latest On Sale Of The Hawks

APRIL 17TH, 7:45pm: The league’s owners are pleased with a potential sale amount in the $900MM range, though prospective buyers aren’t offering that amount yet, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today tweets. The group fronted by Kaplan are the current favorites to purchase the team, Zillgitt adds. The Bridgeman group is not out of the running yet, Zillgitt notes in a second tweet.

APRIL 15TH,8:15pm: Ressler and Hill have replaced Rachesky in the group that includes Starker and Itzler, with Ressler now the leader of that bid, as Soshnick explains in a full piece.

APRIL 14TH: Ares Capital’s Tony Ressler, who is fronting a group that includes Hill, is making a bid to purchase the Hawks, Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg News tweets. Mark Rachesky is also no longer involved with bidding for the team, Soshnick adds.

APRIL 7TH: The group that included Hill has given up its pursuit of the team, two sources tell USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt. Presumably, that’s the group Vivlamore referred to that believed it was out of the running. Zillgitt identified Hill and Bridgeman as the leaders of the now defunct bid, of which Bryan Colangelo and neuropsychologist Richard Chaifetz were also reportedly a part. Zillgitt also refers to Kaplan and Rachesky as the leaders of their respective bidding groups.

APRIL 3RD: A bidding group that involves baseball legend Hank Aaron as well as former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien and current Grizzlies minority owner Steve Kaplan is one of two that have become favorites to win control of the Hawks, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Investor and Lionsgate Entertainment chairman Mark Rachesky, brokerage firm founder Steven Starker and rapper-turned-entrepreneur Jesse Itzler are principles in the other, as Vivlamore details. There’s a deadline of April 10th for final bids, according to Vivlamore, though that date is flexible, and Vivlamore suggests there’s a distinct possibility that the process drags on into June.

Tampa Bay Rays part-owner Randy Frankel is also reportedly a member of the Rachesky-Starker-Itzler group, while Indonesian sports and media moguls Erick Thohir and Handy Poernomo Soetedjo are in the Aaron-Levien-Kaplan partnership. A long list of other names have been connected to the sale since controlling owner Bruce Levenson announced in September that he would sell the team after he self-reported racially charged emails that he had sent. The team’s other ownership groups eventually agreed to sell their stakes, too, putting 100% of the franchise on the market. Preliminary offers have reportedly ranged as high as about $800MM.

One group of bidders believes its out of the running after a long gap in communication with the search firms that are facilitating the sale on behalf of the existing owners, according to Vivlamore. Another group has expressed displeasure with Philips Arena, as Vivlamore details.

Former Suns and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, former players Grant Hill and junior Bridgeman and neuropsychologist Richard Chaifetz are reportedly teaming for a bid. Dominique Wilkins has been expected to be a prominent part of one of the groups. Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Webber have also reportedly held interest. Kelly Loeffler and Mary Brock, who own Atlanta’s WNBA team, were also reportedly interested in bidding for the Hawks, along with their husbands, Jeffrey Sprecher and John Brock. Attorney Doug Davis is apparently in the mix, too. Investors Thomas Tull and Chris Hansen were seemingly poised to mount separate longshot bids to buy the Hawks and move them to Seattle, though commissioner Adam Silver has insisted the team will stay put. The Chinese investment conglomerate Fosun has also reportedly bid for the team.

Latest On Nets, Hawks Sales

WEDNESDAY, 1:20pm: Investor and Lionsgate Entertainment chairman Mark Rachesky is joining the Frankel-Itzler-Starker bid, league sources tell Marc Stein of At least one of the groups with interest in the Hawks is willing to pay more than $900MM, a source tells Stein, though it’s unclear if that total would include bonds tied to the arena that aren’t part of the franchise value, as Mike Ozanian of recently suggested. Stein also adds the names of Indonesian sports and media moguls Erick Thohir and Handy Poernomo Soetedjo to the group fronted by baseball legend Hank Aaron. Wilkins, the Hawks icon and current front office executive for the team, is expected to be a “prominent” member of a bidding group, Stein also hears.

12:23pm: Geffen tells Peter Newcomb of Bloomberg News that he’s not interested in buying the Nets, as Newcomb’s Bloomberg colleague Scott Soshnick tweets.

MONDAY, 8:54am: The Chinese investment conglomerate Fosun is bidding for the Hawks and has interest in the Nets, report Josh Kosman and Claire Atkinson of the New York Post, who hear from a sports banker who believes the Hawks will strike a deal with a new owner in six weeks. The investment fund for the government of the nation of Qatar and former interim Clippers CEO Dick Parsons are also among those interested in the Nets, a franchise that multiple sports bankers believe would sell for as much as $2 billion, according to Kosman and Atkinson. Impresario David Geffen is also considering a run at the Nets, Kosman and Atkinson write, renewing apparent interest from the past. The Post scribes also identify “two wealthy U.S. families” as parties eyeing the Nets.

One of the bankers to whom Kosman and Atkinson spoke disputed an earlier report that the NBA is mandating that current Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov attach his 45% stake in the Barclays Center to his 80% share of the team, saying that the league hasn’t made a decision. The league is promising a verdict on the matter soon, but the confusion over just what’s a part of the sale is causing complication, Kosman and Atkinson hear. Bruce Ratner’s Forest City Enterprises has confirmed it’s shopping its 20% stake in the team, though Prokhorov’s camp has been reluctant to make the same pronouncement regarding its interest in a sale.

The Qatari investment fund seems an unusual bidder, though it has existing connections to the sports world. It owns a French soccer team, as Robert Windrem of NetsDaily points out. It also has ties to the NBA through beIN, a French sports television channel, the NetsDaily scribe tweets. Others linked to the Nets include former Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, investor David Bonderman and hedge fund manager David Einhorn, as well as Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

The same banker who suggested the Hawks sale will be complete in six weeks tells Kosman and Atkinson that he believes the NBA would like to see the Hawks sold before the Nets are. A deadline for preliminary bids for the Atlanta franchise passed last week, and a long list of potential buyers exists. Tampa Bay Rays part-owner Randy Frankel is teaming with rapper-turned-entrepreneur Jesse Itzler and brokerage firm founder Steven Starker in one bid. Former NBA players Grant Hill and Junior Bridgeman, former Suns and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, and neuropsychologist Richard Chaifetz are partnering for another.  The owners of Atlanta’s WNBA team, Kelly Loeffler and Mary Brock, along with their husbands, Jeffrey Sprecher and John Brock, are also reportedly interested in bidding for the Hawks. Former players Dominique Wilkins, Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Webber, former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien, attorney Doug Davis and Seattle-focused investors Chris Hansen and Thomas Tull have been linked to the club, too.

Hawks Ownership Agrees To Sell Entire Team

All three of the Hawks ownership groups have agreed to sell their respective shares of the team, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, meaning that 100% of the franchise will be available for purchase. Vivlamore hears that the NBA has approved of the sale and that the Hawks are being valued by interested parties at upwards of $600MM, while Grantland’s Zach Lowe was told by a league source that the organization might be worth anywhere from $750MM-$1 billion (Twitter link). Still, Lowe cautions that the club’s value is more likely on the lower end of that spectrum.

Controlling owner Bruce Levenson and his partners agreed to sell their 50.1% stake in the team in late September, shortly before a racially charged email from GM Danny Ferry was leaked and a controversial message Levenson had written in 2012 went public after an internal investigation. The Hawks’ other two ownership groups, led by Michael Gearon Jr. and Steven Price,  were initially undecided on whether or not they would sell their stakes in the team, but reports from this summer had indicated that prospective purchasers wanted the entire franchise to exchange hands rather than just a portion of it.

There have been several parties reportedly interested in purchasing the Hawks, including former players Dominique Wilkins, Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Webber. Former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien and attorney Doug Davis have also reportedly expressed interest. Whoever ends up with controlling interest in the team likely won’t have the opportunity to relocate the franchise out of Atlanta, Vivlamore notes, because the NBA would not want to lose a team in a top-10 market.

The sale of the Hawks franchise will put a finish to an unforgettable saga in Atlanta that changed the image of the organization and sent Ferry on an indefinite leave from his post at GM that he’s reportedly unlikely to ever return from. Multiple players indicated they would feel uncomfortable joining a team led by Levenson and Ferry after hearing the racially fueled comments the duo made, so perhaps the change in direction will help mend the view of the franchise going forward.

The Clippers were sold for a record $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in August after a similar, albeit much more controversial, situation unfolded in Los Angeles when then-owner Donald Sterling was caught making inflammatory remarks about Magic Johnson and African Americans during a recorded conversation with his girlfriend. The Bucks were purchased by an ownership group spearheaded by Marc Lasry and Wes Edens last April for $550MM. The Hawks sound likely to land somewhere in between those two figures, with more prospective buyers sure to surface in the coming weeks.

Latest On Danny Ferry, Hawks

Hawks GM Danny Ferry doesn’t believe it’s possible that he’d return to his job under new ownership, sources tell TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for Ferry has been on an indefinite leave of absence since September, shortly after controlling owner Bruce Levenson announced plans to sell the team that stemmed from a racially insensitive email that he wrote in 2012. The scandal enveloped Ferry when the racially charged remarks he read about Luol Deng during a conference call in June became public.

Completion of a sale is still several months away, Aldridge writes, and that jibes with a report from a month ago that indicated that the sale process was slow-going, with the size of the portion of the team up for sale still unclear. Regardless of who owns the franchise, the chance that Ferry returns at any point to his job is “microscopic,” Aldridge writes, echoing similar verbiage from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

Ferry has nonetheless picked up widespread support around the league, with Al Horford the latest to defend the executive’s character, as Aldridge details. Aldridge also heard from Kyle Korver, who reiterated his faith in the Hawks and Ferry. Still, the public pressure is on, and the Rev. Markel Hutchins, an Atlanta civil rights leader who served as the spokesman for a dozen civil rights groups that met with the Hawks earlier this year in the wake of the incident, told Aldridge that he’d be “extremely disappointed” if Ferry returned.

Coach Mike Budenholzer has been serving in a dual role as acting GM since Ferry took his leave, with help, as Aldridge points out, from assistant GM Wes Wilcox and senior adviser Rick Sund, who preceded Ferry as Hawks GM.

And-Ones: Hawks, Motum, Crawford

Outgoing Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson has the power to force as much as 60% of the team to be sold, even though he and his partners have only 50.1% of the team, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The NBA appears to be pressuring all of the other owners to sell so that the entire franchise can change hands, Vivlamore adds. All of the team’s owners still have yet to meet to discuss how much of the franchise they’re going to sell, and so far, their only action as a group has involved preparation for vetting prospective buyers, though vetting itself has yet to begin, as Vivlamore explains.

Here’s more from around the league:

      • When Jordan Crawford signed with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association for $1.4MM it wasn’t because he didn’t receive any NBA offers. The Kings had tried to sign Crawford this summer, but he wasn’t comfortable with a backup role in Sacramento, David Pick of Eurobasket reports (Twitter links). Crawford also relayed that he felt “overlooked” by the league, and that’s what led him to China, Pick notes.
      • Brock Motum‘s one year, minimum salary deal with the Jazz is non-guaranteed, as is reflected on the Basketball Insiders salary page for Utah.
      • Many of the teams that joined the Sixers in a voting bloc that scuttled immediate lottery reform are nonetheless miffed about Philadelphia’s stripped-down roster, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe writes. Teams voted down lottery changes in part because they feel too much is in flux, and that includes the unknown of just how or whether the league will phase in the substantial increase in the salary cap that the league’s enhanced TV revenues will bring about, Lowe adds. Some influential agents oppose the idea of any phase-in, preferring that the cap simply leap in the summer of 2016 based on the idea that teams might be uncertain of how to handle the changed landscape and hand out contracts they’ll later regret, according to Lowe.
      • The surging salary cap projections have some small-market teams worried about how they’ll manage in a league where $100MM payrolls are the norm, in spite of the TV money that would make that sort of spending more palatable, as Lowe writes in the same piece. Small-market teams also fear that they’ll become slightly profitable and lose the benefit of tens of millions in income through the league’s revenue sharing program, the Grantland columnist explains. The Lakers handed out $50MM, the Knicks $27MM and the Bulls $17MM in revenue sharing last season, Lowe reports.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: Hawks, Sixers, McDaniels, Vonleh

There’s concern around the league that NBA franchises are overvalued, in part out of worry that the union will negotiate a better deal for itself in the next collective bargaining agreement, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News details. That “buy low, sell high” mentality helps explain why Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov seems motivated to cash out on at least part of his majority share of the team. There’s more from Deveney’s piece pertaining to another team on the market, as we pass along here:

  • Deveney also hears that Hawks owner Bruce Levenson was open to selling his controlling interest in the team even before the discovery of his racially charged email. We rounded up today’s latest on the Hawks sale right here.
  • The Sixers only signed two players in free agency this year, both to minimum-salary deals, as our Free Agent Tracker shows, but co-owner Josh Harris insists he’s willing to spend in the future, notes Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News (Twitter links). “We’ve bottomed out and now together we build,” Harris said. 
  • Grantland’s Zach Lowe confirms that the deal that K.J. McDaniels signed with the Sixers was indeed the team’s required tender, as I speculated. Teams must offer their second-round picks a one-year, non-guaranteed contract for the minimum salary to retain their draft rights, and those are the terms that McDaniels signed for.
  • Hornets rookie Noah Vonleh says he didn’t work out for Charlotte before the draft because his agent didn’t believe he’d still be available when the Hornets picked at No. 9 overall, as Vonleh tells Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer.

Latest On Hawks Controversy

1:57pm: Vivlamore clarifies in a full story that Levenson, Peskowitz and Foreman intend to sell their 50.1% of the club, but the reason the percentage of the team up for sale is not clear is because it’s unknown whether the Gearons or any of the other owners who hold minority shares intend to sell. It would be premature to target the end of the year for completion of the sale, Vivlamore adds, noting that the city of Atlanta has no authority over the sale of the team and little to do with the mechanics of the ownership transfer, in spite of Reed’s meetings with Silver, Levenson and others. There is indeed plenty of interest from potential buyers, but most are merely making inquiries about the sale process at this point and aren’t yet talking terms, Vivlamore says.

11:39am: Commissioner Adam Silver assured Reed last week that the league is committed to keeping the Hawks in Atlanta, as Reed relayed today to media, including The Associated Press. Reed also expressed hope that the team will indeed have a new owner by year’s end.

10:54am: It’s unclear just what percentage of the team is up for sale, tweets Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A buyer could have the majority of the team with the purchase of Levenson’s, Peskowitz’s and Foreman’s full stakes, since that would constitute 50.1% of the club. However, a purchase of less than that could presumably put Michael Gearon Sr. and Michael Gearon Jr., who control a combined 42%, in charge, though that’s just my speculation.

9:00am: The Hawks are likely to be sold by year’s end, at a price point that falls somewhere in between the $550MM the Bucks went for in the spring and the bloated $2 billion that Steve Ballmer paid for the Clippers, a source tells Michael Wallace of In the meantime, several agents who spoke to Wallace are concerned about the front office situation, suggesting that the lingering effects of the controversy surrounding the team and GM Danny Ferry‘s indefinite absence will affect the team’s ability to make roster moves.

Controlling owner Bruce Levenson, along with partners Ed Peskowitz and Todd Foreman, are selling their shares of the team, which make up a collective 50.1% stake in the franchise, after revelations of a racially charged email prompted Levenson to relinquish his ownership. The balance between the efforts of Levenson and his partners to find a buyer against the league’s involvement in the sale is unclear, but the city of Atlanta is part of the process. Mayor Kasim Reed said last month that he had spoken with six prospective buyers. Hawks executive Dominique Wilkins has expressed interest in buying the team, likely in the role of front man for an investment group, though it’s not certain whether his recent promotion is a signal that he’s close to taking any sort of ownership role.

Coach Mike Budenholzer has taken over the GM duties for Ferry, whose racially charged remarks about Luol Deng prompted his indefinite leave, but Budenholzer dismisses the notion that juggling two jobs would leave the Hawks in a tenuous position, as he expressed to Wallace. The ESPN scribe also indicates that assistant GM Wes Wilcox is playing a prominent role.

“I feel like there’s not a huge difference, to be honest with you,” Budenholzer said to Wallace. “Preparing for camp and little things that needed to be decided — who’s coming, who’s not, where we’re staying — so there’s a few of those conversations that impact my day. A few more people are probably coming into my office than prior. It gives me a comfort level when I think I’ve been involved in a [Spurs] program where the assistants and coaches have had a lot of input. R.C. [Buford] and [Gregg] Popovich, those guys were amazing about listening. They valued our opinions. And now, I value everybody’s opinion.”

The agents who expressed their concerns to Wallace about the structure of the front office emphasized the effect as it applied to trades involving players on high-dollar or long-term deals, but such moves rarely happen at this point of the year. Closing the sale by December would allow the new ownership to have their staff in place in advance of the February 19th trade deadline, when more significant moves more commonly occur.