Could Ferry, the Hawks’ GM-in-limbo, be the NBA Exec of the Year?

Danny Ferry needs to speak soon. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Danny Ferry needs to speak soon. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Danny Ferry hasn’t been seen lately, but his creation is going great. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Credit (or blame, depending on your perspective) esteemed former colleague Michael Lee, now of the Washington Post, for planting this seed. We were sitting next to other another in the crowded Philips Arena press room after the Atlanta Hawks had beaten Oklahoma City for their 15th consecutive victory, and Mr. Lee said, “Danny Ferry should be Executive of the Year.”

He was half-smiling as he spoke, but it got me to thinking: Why shouldn’t the man who assembled the team with the NBA’s second-best record be considered? Never mind that he has been on a leave of absence since Sept. 12. All these players were in place by then. Does the NBA have a rule that its Executive of the Year has to be a fully functioning executive throughout the entire season? Would any professional league have thought such a rule was even necessary?

It’s true that much of Ferry’s heavy lifting — signing Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll after letting Josh Smith leave, hiring Mike Budenholzer, matching Milwaukee’s offer sheet to Jeff Teague — was done in the summer of 2013. The favorite for this season’s award is probably Bob Myers of Golden State, which has the league’s best record. (Washington’s Ernie Grunfeld would be in the discussion, too.)

Regarding personnel, the Warriors didn’t make a major move last summer. Their coup came by stealing coach Steve Kerr from Phil Jackson and the Knicks. Still, the Warriors were 51-31 last season under Mark Jackson; the Hawks were 38-44. A lot of folks expected big things from Golden State. Nobody expected this from the Hawks.

And here’s the weird part: The Hawks wound up not signing free agent Luol Deng, who was described in a report that Ferry read aloud as having “some African in him.” That characterization led Ferry to take the leave of absence, and the GM remains in limbo, waiting to see if the Hawks’ new owner — whoever that might be, whenever the sale is consummated (assuming it ever is) — wishes to retain his services.

Deng signed with Miami, where he’s the third-leading scorer (averaging 14.3 points) on a 20-25 team. But imagine if the Hawks had landed Deng and installed him at small forward ahead of Carroll. Would this exquisitely balanced starting five have been quite so exquisite without its best perimeter defender? Probably not.

Reader Comments 2

91 comments
SportsTopFan
SportsTopFan

Danny Ferry should return at the RIGHT time  !!!


The Atlanta Hawks engine is running perfectly on all cylinders.

Keep things exactly as they are.

Any major tune-up and modification  (Danny Ferry) should be done after the streak is over.

Marvinmooney
Marvinmooney

Long past time to let him back in the door. The Hawks wouldn't be this good without Ferry. This black Atlantan thanks him.

GeorgeSteele
GeorgeSteele

I hate to admit it, but Danny Ferry was right on almost all counts! Coach Bud's hiring was absolute genius. I don't think anyone saw that coming! And, he and Danny seem to have picked guys that fit this system like a glove. I frankly felt like we didn't have the firepower to field a team like this and that shows that they knew better than we what was needed for this system.

Ferry should be returned to his position with the appropriate statements and then let's all celebrate this team and move away from all this race-baiting past.

Akiva Eiger
Akiva Eiger

He would have to win retroactively last year because he didn't do much of anything this offseason.  In fact one weakness I think they have is consistent scoring off the bench which they had in Lou and gave away for free.

-sting-
-sting-

@Akiva Eiger no not for free. money was used to stay under budget and get bazemore and thabo. lou would not play well in this offense so better off. lou plays no d and that is this teams credo this year. so a win win. bench is much stronger for doing it not weaker.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

The real story here is what a dolt that Levinson is. If he'd spent more time building a winning organization and less time fabricating racial excuses for lack of support, he could have been the hero here instead of the zero.

-sting-
-sting-

@GeorgeJetsen the dolt behind this is the gearon clan and the atlanta mafia behind him.

JSSN
JSSN

@-sting- @GeorgeJetsen

Complicity is a two-way street. Stop making excuses for Levinson. Glad the Hawks are winning; but there's no way this mess can be swept under the rug simply because of 'Ws" instead of "Ls." 

patriotdog
patriotdog

They weren't his words, he was reading a letter written by another. Bradley and Schultz exposed themselves as two-bit hacks by jumping on the story as if Ferry had written the words himself. Not only did he not write the words, but the letter was read by Ferry during a private meeting of Hawks officials. and months later a disgruntled Hawks owner, one of many, reported it by way of trying to cause further splits in the group and force a sale of the team. I once thought the Atlanta Spirit Group were collectively the biggest D-bags in Atlanta sports. Now you can add Bradley and Schultz from the miasma of journalistic sludge to the stinking ooze of ASG.

WhopperDawg
WhopperDawg

Everyone makes mistakes. He is the architect of the team (Dimitroff should take notes and quit laying blame at the departed feet of Smith). I would hate to see the best GM Atlanta pro sports has had since John Schuerholtz depart over a regretted mistake. What a start he had had, he may end up the best every if reason prevails and he stays.


Hell, a good GM in Atlanta is like finding gold.

Native_Atlantan
Native_Atlantan

Add me to the list of African Americans who support Ferry.  If our GM was smart he'd just quietly slip back into his office and if anyone questioned him just calmly say "I'm just here so I don't get fined".


Seriously, I was mildly put off by his comments but not to the point of 'unforgiveability'.  In my opinion he's already "served his time" and I would WELCOME him back.  Based on the comments, I feel confident that he's not mean-spirited and we all have the same goal.  I buy tickets.  I own Hawks gear, old and new.  I forgive this.  Let's move on.


Go Hawks!

SonomaCountyDawg
SonomaCountyDawg

@Native_Atlantan I think the new owners decision to keep or dump Ferry hinges on their comfort level that they can reach ALL fans in Atlanta and more specifically that African Americans will support the team with Ferry being involved. If more or most African Americans feel the way you do and the owners know it, then I think he is staying. I am not sure there is a easy way to get this pulse, but I am sure this is or will be the conversation behind closed doors. 

kenstallings
kenstallings

Well, it's nice to finally see a few salient facts emerge from the fog of political obsession.  Danny Ferry has certainly assembled an outstanding team where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  He should be Executive of the Year, and the only thing that would prevent it would be the politically fueled demonetization of the man fed to the media by a minority owner looking to sink the ship.

km42
km42

Don't think C-Viv has mentioned it, but there has been a DF sighting.....he was spotted at MSG this past Sunday for Coach K's 1K victory celebration.  Doesn't mean anything other than I'm sure he's staying in touch with all his contacts and keeping the resume updated.

SonomaCountyDawg
SonomaCountyDawg

It should be clarified for some that Ferry hasn't been suspended. He took the leave on his own volition in what I guess was the only thing he could do if he wanted to save his job. I don't think Ferry is coming back until the new ownership group is in place and they are committed to keeping him. This is just a tough, sensitive issue that likely won't be settled quietly. I just hope that both the sale and this GM issue is dealt with prior to the playoffs. I don't want this to linger and cloud what could be a very exciting NBA playoff season for us long suffering Hawks fan.


I will say this, and I don't really care who owns the Hawks as long as they are committed to Atlanta and winning, if this ownership group is majority owned by an African American(s), and they want to keep Ferry, this issue will probably be less contentious. Again, the sale shouldn't be race based, but I think this will help calm the issue. 


One final note, the value of the Hawks right now is being pushed up by the work of Ferry and Coach Bud. If I am buying the team and paying a premium for it, those two dudes need to be part of the deal. Before I am stroking that near $1B check, I am sitting down with those dudes and saying, "are you on board for staying?" Otherwise, I want a discount. 

atlfanman
atlfanman

Has anyone noticed the Atlanta Hawks are the number one team in the Eastern Conference? Although, Danny Ferry made several good moves as GM, could the Hawks' success be just as attributed to his absence now as well as the influence of the coaching staff and the exploits of the players? We have not seen a smart and successful team like this since the Braves of the 90s. We appear not to be used to winning or what it takes to win. At this point bringing Ferry back might upset the great flow of what going on now.


We could debate the degree his statements should have on his tenure here forever but what is most important now is the Atlanta Hawks are winning. Build a statue, name a street after him, do anything but bring him back now. No distractions, no drama, keep building on what you have and moving forward.


GO HAWKS!

58Supersports
58Supersports

@atlfanman  It would be no distraction from players and coaches, only the idiots that don't want him.

atlfanman
atlfanman

@58Supersports Now is not the time to bring Ferry back. The Hawks are winning. Don't upset what is going on with constant unnecessary talk of bringing him back. His return is not essential to their victories. To Ferry's credit he has stayed away from being a distraction. If new ownership decides to bring him back when the season is over, that's fine. Fans of the Atlanta Hawks owe Ferry tremendous gratitude for getting rid of Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams and Josh Smith and hiring Coach Bud and making good selections in the draft and free agency. However, now bloggers seem to want to deify him and make as if his every move was perfect. Ferry will either return as GM or become a GM for another team and he will be a better GM for his experiences here. We have a winning team, playing the best basketball ever for a Hawks' team, let it go, concentrate on the good, Ferry will be fine.

swimfin2
swimfin2

Yep brilliant you and JS wanted the man responsible for turning the hawks into a potential champion, to be fired last year! Just shows you journalist don't have a damn clue and need to just cover the basics.

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

It's accurate to say Ferry is largely responsible for the Hawks' current success.  He's emulated the San Antonio Spurs model here,  and he's done a darned good job.


His offensive comment  - made in private - has been blown so far out of proportion as to be completely ludicrous.  


At some point America will grow up about race relations.  And the uttered statement will stand on its own merit - rather than being filtered through the perceived mindset of the one who uttered it.


Clearly, if an African American executive had made a comparable statement in the same environment under similar circumstances - and I'm sure they have -  the world at large would have yawned in response to the revelation.


And that's as it should be.  





BLowE12
BLowE12

@CardiganBoy With an African American making disparaging comments about another group is currently happening in City Government. 

km42
km42

How many times can you say the EOY could win by doing the least possible?

He is the architect, but not many win awards by basically 'standing pat'.

Wilbo
Wilbo

This is one of those sad situations where there is some national sentiment that the man has committed some unpardonable social sin. I don't see an escape for him. Maybe he'll get super lucky and people will forget in a couple of years, but this is one of those things where our sadly twisted "national conscience" could hound the poor dude for years...

BLowE12
BLowE12

@Wilbo The good thing is that we live in an "Instant News" cycle that only last about 15 minutes until the next blown out of proportion story starts up!


I call this the, TMZ affect.

Delbert_D
Delbert_D

"He has a little Hong Kong in him. Not in a bad way, but he's like a guy who would have a nice eBay store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back."

BSNBC
BSNBC

Obama has a little African in him too! Leave Ferry alone!

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

To this point I've completely checked out from the Hawks amazing streak, stemming from a now years-old overwhelming desire to punish this ownership group in any way I can (admitting they probably could not care less). I have no animosity for the players or coaches or GM, I wish them well. But quite frankly, I'm rooting for a proverbial train wreck until these clowns are no longer on the scene.

cekirk2356
cekirk2356

Enough already, GIVE THIS MAN HIS DAMN JOB BACK!!!  I'm a 58 year old African American and grew up in the South and have lived in the South my entire life.  Did he screw up, YES!!!  Who hasn't?  As I understand it, if you look at his entire body of work, that is not who he is. We all make mistakes and for those who say I don't, you're full of it.  He's needs to be back on the job so the he and this regime can continue to build this team into something really special for years to come.

TEB1
TEB1

@cekirk2356 Be careful that is not a politically correct response.

khd713
khd713

The idea of Danny Ferry being Executive of the Year did not originate with Michael Lee.  As someone mentions below, Chuck and Chernoff have been talking about this for weeks on 680 The Fan. Give credit where credit is due.

DarrynLee
DarrynLee

@khd713 He probably didn't think much about it until someone outside of Atlanta mentioned it.

bigdoggie1
bigdoggie1

He should've been EOY for unloading Joe, Josh and Marvin, alone! To this day I can't believe Mikhail Prokhorov signed Joe to that huge contract!?!

And, other than Kwame Brown, Josh was the most disappointing player in the last 10 years!

The key, though, THE KEY was to hire Coach Bud!

In Bud we Trust!

drmaryb
drmaryb

#bringferryback

Bring Big Daddy home. Mr. Ferry was made the scapegoat just, like Oliver North was, in the Iran-Contra Hearings, back in the '80s!

Leave Ferry Alone!

- a black woman from the dirty south -

-sting-
-sting-

@drmaryb say it loud dmb. need to speak up on the cviv blog.

rockinreel
rockinreel

What we have all learned is that a white guy can't say a guy has African in him even though the guys heritage roots relate back to Africa.

oledawg
oledawg

@rockinreel  Yep. And since he was born in Sudan I would say Mr. Ferry was correct.  Is "having a little African in you" a terrible thing? Apparently the PC police have decided it is.

DarrynLee
DarrynLee

@rockinreel It's what it was meant by that statement that got him in trouble. It was implied that it meant being two-faced. 


"he has a little African in him. Not in a bad way, but he's like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back." 


That what got Ferry into trouble.

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

Yes he should be Exec of the Year.  Plain and simple.

Hoping that Steve Koonin does the smart and right thing of reinstating Ferry.  Do it quietly with no fan fare, just a note that the suspension has been lifted.  Then leave the spotlight on the team, where it belongs.  I think this is probably the reason nothing has been done.  Ferry doesn't need to be in the spotlight at all right now and there is really nothing he needs to do until much later in the year.

bigdoggie1
bigdoggie1

@Born2Buzz: I agree! I believe if the Hawks were, say, 27-18, and not the talk of the NBA, Ferry would've been back by now.

I believe Coach Bud and Steve Koonin want to keep everything focused on the team and its splendid play. Even a Saturday morning note that Ferry is back would be big news today.

But, if there was any day to do that, it would be this Saturday - late evening - the night before the SB! The story would be buried by DeflateGate and the Legion of Boom and the rest of the SB noise!

dex413
dex413

@Born2Buzz  Bring him back after the season is over, he deserves a second chance because that's what this country is about

MrFish
MrFish

Dumb Gearon was trying to force his dream team wish of Deng on the Hawks. Fans should build Ferry a statue for pulling out all the stops to block daddys boy from forcing Deng onto the Hawks roster. The punk wanted to run the team and the punk gearon is a joke. He shouldn't even be allowed in Phillips arena as he is a hazard to the team. He never liked Ferry because Ferry would show how ignorant Gearon is about player talent.

km42
km42

@MrFish I can only reply to this Fish by saying that the majority of Hawks' fans would have thought Ferry 'stole' himself a significant piece if Deng became a Hawk.


The 3 guys I wanted this offseason were Love, Bledsoe and / or Gasol.  I guesses DF would go after Thabo, who had a tough season last year.

We would have been fortunate to get any of those mentioned based on our history, but does any of them make this roster that much better?  Perhaps, but it comes with a cost that DF was willing to gamble on.  NOTE:  Gasol took 4M less to go to CHI, so to each his own.

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

@km42 @MrFish Means we would have to get rid of Millsap or Horford to accommodate Gasol or Love.  Love would be a good fit; Gasol... not so much.   

-sting-
-sting-

@MrFish fish, right on target. little mikey was all upset he was unable to intercede into the workings of the hawks b df's contract. little mikey and his atl piedmon driving club corporate thugs who stole this team from atl fans and sent another packing, blew it.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@MrFish Gearon was a Josh Smith jock sniffer. Never forgave Ferry for not resigning him.

EmoryEagles
EmoryEagles

Ferry made his apologies and I believe some big names around basketball said he should be forgiven.  I also believe I recently read that many of the players would be happy to have him back.  I may be wrong on both counts though.


Either way, while the Hawks are on this run, I have mixed feelings.  I think he deserves to come back, but I don't want to do anything that may distract the team from the ultimate goal.

NoDoubt
NoDoubt

Self imposed exile??? I think the exile was more or less put in place by the remaining minority owners. Ferry should stay away as long as he possibly can. How can he be considered exec of the year when he's not even allowed to step in Philips let alone manage? Has anyone thought about this from a players perspective? I would like to think the players have rallied together and playing great bball in spite of Mr. Ferry's comments. 


Keep Ferry away...

oledawg
oledawg

@NoDoubt  I doubt the players are as torn up about this as you apparently are.

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

@oledawg @NoDoubt AND>... the players would probably think your a moron.  Im sure my Nigerian Prince buddy whom i gave my bank account # to earlier would even agree.  
Ps.... cant wait for you to be my new roomate Prince!    I have cashed the check for $10,000 you sent from Nigeria.. but for some reason its got a hold??

JSSN
JSSN

@BravesFan79

"You're" quickly devolving into the world of RangeRover, Big Ray, Cobb County Braves, and other uninsightful trolls with every reply.

Trackbacks

  1. […] roster as it is now was put together by Danny Ferry and he is deserving of NBA Executive of the Year in the NBA this season based on record and performance of the team. One of the best moves was a […]

  2. […] is, Danny Ferry isn’t just a GM. He’s the best GM the Hawks have ever had. Counting his time in Cleveland, he has assembled three 60-win teams, and his built-to-suit-LeBron […]