With new ownership set to take over on June 24th, Hawks fans are all asking the same question: Will Danny Ferry be the General Manager next season? Many have gone on the record stating that they think it’s highly unlikely Ferry is brought back, but unless they know something I don’t, I have not seen an argument with much substance to it. Ferry took an indefinite leave from his GM position after a recording of him making racial remarks was leaked. However, these remarks were read from a scouting report that he did not compile. These were not his words, nor his opinions. Ferry himself asked to be granted an indefinite leave of absence, and we have not heard a peep from him since. Here’s why I’m not so sure Ferry will be removed. Mike Budenholzer took over the role of General Manager in Ferry’s absence. If the Hawks wanted Ferry gone… wouldn’t he be gone by now?
It all falls into the hands of the new owners, Tony Ressler, Sara Blakely, Jesse Itzler and Grant Hill. Luckily for Ferry, he and Grant Hill are both Duke legends. If he gets Hill’s seal of approval (which I think he will), Ferry’s return is more likely than people will admit. Anybody that knows Ferry personally will all tell you the same thing: Ferry is not a racist. He has a reputation around the league and if he is fired or resigns from this position, it’s highly likely another team gives him a shot. At the end of the day, it’s a highly sensitive issue. The product on the floor, however, is the best this city has ever seen with Ferry at the helm. And he’s still just getting started.
The Hawks won 60 games and made the Eastern Conference Finals under the blueprint Ferry put into place. Ferry will have to rehabilitate his image, but he has paid his dues with what was practically a year-long suspension. It’s undeniable that Duke alumni possess a strong bond, and I would not be surprised to see Ferry at the helm next season. Is it likely he steps down or is terminated? Perhaps, but his chances are not as low as many suspect. If Ferry is not retained, Mike Budenholzer will likely be due a raise (this is his last season left on his contract), and in part, he will likely be given some GM duties. Either way, ownership’s number one priority will be ensuring Coach Bud will be here for years to come. In just three seasons, Ferry has taken the “same old Hawks” to a level of play that was unprecedented in this city. He brought in the Coach of the Year, signed two of the best bargain contracts in the NBA in Paul Millsap and Demarre Carroll, and implemented a winning formula that has proven to be successful. Phillips Arena filled more seats than ever before. If Ferry’s comments were his own, this would be a different story. Danny Ferry has paid his dues, and the Hawks would be foolish to let him go.