As we outlined on Friday, Hawks owner Tony Ressler conducted a series of media interviews this week to discuss the team’s recent front office and head coaching changes. We passed along a few highlights from his discussions with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Lauren Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but Ressler also spoke on Friday to Jeff Schultz of The Athletic, who pushed him a little harder on the role that his son Nick Ressler has within the Hawks’ front office.
Reporting from The Athletic earlier this year suggested that Nick Ressler – Atlanta’s director of business and basketball operations – had gained “increasing influence” in the Hawks’ front office and that not everyone was comfortable with that. Pressed on the issue by Schultz, Tony Ressler pushed back on the notion that his son has an outsized voice in decision-making and that other executives aren’t happy with Nick’s role.
“Who? Do they still work here?” the Hawks’ owner responded when Schultz said The Athletic had spoken to people who were uncomfortable with his son’s level of influence. “Look, the idea that you’re using former employees for a narrative that is untrue. The simple answer is we have a front office today that works beautifully, where Nick is one of many voices and frankly an unbelievably positive and supportive voice. And if you ask anyone who works here they would tell you yes.
“… We have a fairly large basketball ops that values a whole bunch of voices and Nick’s one of them. … What he is is a great kid who works his ass off and is one of the many voices that feed into (assistant GM) Kyle (Korver) and (GM) Landry (Fields).
“Am I partial? Maybe. But if I didn’t think he was a positive influence to this franchise, he wouldn’t be here. … It’s very important to me that perception is similar to reality. When you say I give a disproportionate amount of influence to my son, that’s just a f—ing lie, because I would be running a lesser business than I’m capable of.”
Here’s more from around the Southeast:
- The Magic lost their second-leading scorer on Friday, as Franz Wagner left the game in Charlotte early due to a left ankle sprain. According to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel, X-rays on the ankle were negative, which is good news, but Wagner still may have to miss some time as a result of the injury.
- Kevin Love has started all five games since he arrived in Miami, but the Heat have lost four of those games and the new starting five of Love, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, and Gabe Vincent has a net rating of minus-9.4 so far. As Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes, that same group with former starter Caleb Martin in Love’s place has a plus-18.6 net rating this season. For his part, Martin is still getting used to his new bench role. “It’s a little different, man,” he said on Friday. “… It’s just adjusting to whatever is going on. It’s also more of a role of gassing yourself out, being that spark coming off the bench as opposed to maintaining.”
- The much-vaunted Heat culture is being tested by the team’s inconsistent performances as of late, with Butler suggesting after Friday’s loss to New York that Miami needs to play with more urgency. “We really get bored with the process and I can’t tell you why. We play hard and sometimes we get back in the game like we did tonight and sometimes we don’t,” Butler said, according to Chiang. “But either way it goes, if we just play basketball the right way the entire game, I don’t think we’re in this situation more often than not. But for some odd reason, we think it’s going to be easy so we just go out there and go through the motions.”