The Hawks announced yesterday that Spurs VP/Basketball Operations Danny Ferry will “become the club's new general manager and agreed to a six-year deal,” according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. Ferry will replace Rick Sund, Atlanta's GM the past four seasons. Sund, whose contract “expires on June 30, could remain with the organization as a consultant.” Ferry said, "I was not looking to leave San Antonio. I was very happy there.” The move to hire Ferry is “the strongest indication yet that the owners of the Hawks are no longer looking to sell their franchise,” as his six-year deal “seems to indicate that the current owners are intent on holding on to the club.” Hawks co-Owner Bruce Levenson said, "We're very much in control of the team and we'll be in control of the team for a long, long time" (ESPN.com, 6/25). ESPN.com’s John Hollinger wrote the Hawks’ ownership “identified a single candidate, went after him and got the deal done.” In the “big picture this was a good call.” With no buyer “in sight, Atlanta's current owners decided to take the plunge themselves.” Hollinger: “I'm not sure I'd describe them as ‘all in’ so much as ‘no longer racing for the exit,’ but I'll note that with [former co-Owner] Steve Belkin out of the picture and no [Thrashers] hockey team to distract them, they've been able to operate a lot more cohesively and have been a regular presence -- in particular, [co-Owners] Michael Gearon Jr. and Ed Peskowitz -- at most home games.” Now the Atlanta Spirit group needs to “get some other people to show up.” Hollinger added, “The most jaw-dropping part of this puzzle: He got a six-year deal” (ESPN.com, 6/25).
THAT'S THE SPIRIT! Ferry yesterday said the Hawks’ ownership “had its challenges to deal with: the lawsuit, the sale.” Ferry: “That’s a tough thing for a team to deal with. They’ve done a good job, they really have. From the outside looking in, they’ve been a successful team. I don’t think they are satisfied, and they shouldn’t be. I’m here to build on that success but I knew I need the tools and the ability to be able to build on that.” When asked if selling the team is now off the table, Ferry said, “Bruce has made me comfortable that he’s in this for the long haul and he hopes I’m standing next to him 12 years from now” (AJC.com, 6/25). In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz wrote the Hawks organization “seems to have the right guy in charge.” Ferry “appeared to be ticketed for Philadelphia but the Hawks obviously put enough on the table in terms of autonomy and compensation to lure him to Atlanta” (AJC.com, 6/24). Also in Atlanta, Mark Bradley wrote the issue “won’t be whether Danny Ferry knows his business -- obviously he does -- but whether his new bosses will allow him to conduct that business as he sees fit” (AJC.com, 6/25). Bradley wrote for a franchise that “has chosen wrong so often has finally done it right.” It has hired a “basketball man of impeccable pedigree and plans to get out of his way” (AJC.com, 6/25). NBA.com’s Sekou Smith wrote Ferry is “the perfect man for the job,” and he has “proved capable of mastering the mini-makeover” (NBA.com, 6/25). Levenson estimated that he had “dozens of talks with Ferry as the two discussed what it would take to pry him loose” from the Spurs. Levenson said that Ferry was “the only candidate interviewed to replace"Sund. In San Antonio, Jeff McDonald noted Ferry's six-year contract signals “a bit of stability for a franchise that as recently as a year ago was on the market” (MYSANANTONIO.com, 6/25).
EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM: In Philadelphia, John Mitchell notes the hiring of Ferry, "believed to be the 76ers' top choice" to replace President & GM Rod Thorn, could be "paving the way for Thorn to remain in his position not only through Thursday's draft but also for the foreseeable future" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/26).