Hawks make the right move (honest) hiring Danny Ferry

Danny Ferry. (Getty Images)

Sorry, Danny Ferry is no longer in a position to bring LeBron James with him if he takes the Hawks' GM job. (Getty Images)

(This Sunday blog has been updated with the news this morning that Danny Ferry has been hired as the Hawks’ new president and general manager.)

There will be a blur of issues for the Hawks’ new architect to deal with, but all that really matters today is the organization seems to have the right guy in charge.

The Hawks have finalized the hiring of Danny Ferry as their new team president and general manager, replacing Rick Sund. New general managers, like new coaches and first-round draft picks, come with no guarantees. But Ferry has a strong reputation around the league as a sharp personnel guy and he did a solid job for five years as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ general manager.

Ferry spent the last two years as vice president of basketball operations for the San Antonio Spurs, following his resignation from the Cavs in 2010. He and owner Dan Gilbert split after Gilbert fired coach Mike Brown, in part because the owner hoped to keep LeBron James from fleeing in free agency (didn’t work).

James left Cleveland because he wanted a better supporting cast, but Ferry did an admirable job, acquiring guard Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison and Shaquille O’Neal, among others. In five years as Cleveland’s general manager, the Cavaliers twice finished with the league’s best record, went to the finals once and had a cumulative winning percentage of .663 (272-138). Was that largely because of James? Sure. But that shouldn’t diminish the job Ferry did.

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.

Ferry said in a statement that, “There were many components that made this the right fit for me,” and expressed confidence in ownership, saying: “They are committed to building with the right people and investing in critical areas for development; both essential elements if we want to create sustained success.”

He’ll face a number of issues, including, but not limited to:

1.) What to do about forward Josh Smith, who has requested a trade and will be entering the final season of his contract.

2.) How to manage the Hawks’ salary cap situation with one player (Joe Johnson) taking up so much space while often not resembling an elite player of that compensation level ($20 million).

3.) Who to select in Thursday’s NBA draft, or should the team try to package Smith and/or make a trade to move up from the 23rd overall spot.

But at least the Hawks won’t have somebody in charge at the draft whose contract doesn’t expire at the end of the month (Sund).

PREVIOUS BLOG FROM SUNDAY NIGHT

The partners of the Atlanta Spirit believe I pick on them too much for matters pertaining to . . . well, you know, pretty much everything. So in the interest of equal time, here goes:

The Hawks reportedly have offered the general manager position to Danny Ferry and are in “serious talks” with him, according to Yahoo Sports. There has been no confirmation of this from team officials, but also no denial. The Hawks’ interest in Ferry was first reported by ESPN two days ago, but many believed he was ticketed for the GM opening in Philadelphia.

The team released a statement confirming they have “reached out” to Ferry: “As we continue to evaluate our franchise and look to build a championship caliber organization, we reached out to Danny Ferry. We are engaged in conversation regarding the Atlanta Hawks and our basketball operations. As the situation evolves, we will update at the appropriate time.”

If the Hawks get Ferry, it would be a solid move for the franchise for at least two reasons: 1) It would ensure that Rick Sund is not back as general manager; 2) Ferry is pretty good.

Let’s start with the Sund factor. His contract expires at the end of the month. He has been doing this Hamlet act since during the season, not knowing if wanted to return next season as general manager, a consultant or not at all.

I wrote three weeks ago — here’s the link – that the Hawks should not bring back Sund in any decision-making capacity because the team has major decisions ahead and it doesn’t make sense to put those in the hands of an executive who seemingly already was one foot into retirement.

As it is, the NBA draft is Thursday night and Sund will be the man in charge of the Hawks, unless ownership can get something done with Ferry in the next few days.

As for Ferry, he did a solid job when he was running things in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers went to the finals and twice had the best regular-season record during his five-year tenure. Granted, it helped that LeBron James was on the roster. Ferry resigned after the 2009-10 season when he disagreed with owner Dan Gilbert over the firing of coach Mike Brown (with the hope of enticing James to re-sign). So Ferry went back to San Antonio, where he had started, as a front office executive. I figure any executive twice hired by the San Antonio Spurs must know what he’s doing.

Ferry’s hiring obvious wouldn’t guarantee success. He would have to deal with some of the Hawks’ unique issues, the biggest being Joe Johnson’s contract and Josh Smith entering the final year of his deal. But if he takes the job and is allowed to work free of ownership entanglements, there’s good chance he’ll move the Hawks in the right direction.

By Jeff Schultz

165 comments Add your comment

Delbert D.

June 24th, 2012
5:51 pm

Who would notice?

Birdhair

June 24th, 2012
5:53 pm

sad that he has to work for the silly atl spirit group

zgoldatl

June 24th, 2012
5:58 pm

This would be an actual positive for the franchise. Make it happen

Dawg Haus

June 24th, 2012
5:59 pm

The Hawks sure could use some good news. I’m all for bringing Danny Ferry to the ATL.

BW

June 24th, 2012
5:59 pm

It could go well assuming that the Spirit sells the team…in lieu of that, that they not interfere with the GM like they did in the original Joe Johnson transaction

Rob

June 24th, 2012
6:02 pm

I agree, Schultz. Good points.

Rob

June 24th, 2012
6:03 pm

He has experience dealing with a petulant-yet-productive star player.

Yeah, I like this move.

steve brown

June 24th, 2012
6:03 pm

This news story began Friday and finally the AJC reports on it. Thanks for nothing.

Dawg Haus

June 24th, 2012
6:08 pm

Can we get new ownership for the team, too?

Rambover

June 24th, 2012
6:10 pm

The draft is Thursday night, not Wednesday. But, hey, it’s only the NBA, right?

CONservative Johnson

June 24th, 2012
6:22 pm

Does Lebron James come with him? He did almost nothing in Cleveland. Prince James carried them to the success they had. His success all boils down to a lottery ball that he had very little control over (other than tanking to ensure they had the best chance) . . .

Deja vu

June 24th, 2012
6:22 pm

Popovich is more responsible for the Spurs success than their front office.

NOTSO FAST

June 24th, 2012
6:24 pm

Enter your comments here

Just Me

June 24th, 2012
6:36 pm

Would not be surprised to learn Ferry was merely using the Hawks as leverage to secure a better deal with Philly. I hope it’s not the case, as Ferry would be a great get by the Hawks, but cannot rationalize how someone as accomplished as Ferry would willingly walk into a position with that “well respected” organization know as the Atlanta Spirit Group!?!

The real hawk

June 24th, 2012
6:36 pm

None of this matters without new owners and the ability to spend over the luxury tax

unbiased committee

June 24th, 2012
6:43 pm

….. you mean get rid of the Winnipeg Spirit LLC ownership ……

hmmmm.........

June 24th, 2012
6:54 pm

I hope he comes in and moves jj and his contract, even if the hawks have to eat another bad contract for a season

QB/DB

June 24th, 2012
6:56 pm

YES! YES! PRETTY PLEASE!!!!!!!!!

Rob

June 24th, 2012
7:10 pm

“He did almost nothing in Cleveland. Prince James carried them to the success they had.”

Almost nothing? He was in Cleveland for five years. In that time, they got the Finals once, and won 60+ games twice. Lebron deserve credit but the Cavs were always an elite defense and had one of the deepest rosters in the league. Remember how badly they embarrassed the Hawks in that second round series a few years ago? Yeah.

Brian

June 24th, 2012
7:14 pm

Love it….step in the right direction and with this franchise that is all you can ask for!

chem

June 24th, 2012
7:16 pm

Danny Ferry failed in Cleveland. Did anyone else notice what happened to Cleveland after Lebron left? Not sure anything Danny Ferry did in Cleveland translated to success on the court.

Sage of Bluesland

June 24th, 2012
7:22 pm

It’s simply re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, folks. Don’t be fooled. The rot starts at the very top–and, until this ownership is gone and replaced by caring ones with deep pockets, expectations, and accountability, it won’t matter a bit.

Stop subsidizing the incompetence–as that what this is all about.

This smells fishy

June 24th, 2012
7:25 pm

This has Bill Parcels to the falcons written all over it. I hope that he’s not using this as a ploy to get Philly to give him more,not in terms of money but control. If the hawks can get him, all well and good. I think it would be a great hire. But why would he want to come to an organization that run by ASG who doesn’t believe in spending? I’ve never seen a bunch of broke millionaires.

ThreeDawgKnight

June 24th, 2012
7:30 pm

Thanks for the news Jeff, please keep us abreast.

Jeff Schultz

June 24th, 2012
7:34 pm

Steve Brown – There’s a million rumors out there daily, written and unwritten, and the fact is it would be irresponsible to report on them all because 90 percent of them are bunk. And, fact is, I think Chris Broussard (who reported Friday) probably is hitting .026 with his unsourced stories. Adrian Wojnowski (Yahoo) is slightly more reliable in my book. Secondly, both are quoting unnamed sources, which the AJC does not do except in rare circumstances (sources must be approved by upper editors). So unless we have somebody telling us something directly, you’re not going to read it. That’s why this blog attributes “news” to Yahoo. Hawks owners aren’t commenting. … Now if you just felt like taking a shot, that’s another matter. Swing away, bunky.

CONservative Johnson

June 24th, 2012
7:35 pm

“Almost nothing?”

You’re right. He did NOTHING besides tank a season to get the #1 pick for Lebron.

Lebron is a great defender, so in a 5 on 5 game in the NBA, his teams should be pretty good on D.

The team you mentioned that kicked our butts were starting Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, Ben Wallace, Delonte West and Mo Williams along with Lebron. Pick any 4 of our starters and they are better than that cast without Lebron.

Jeff Schultz

June 24th, 2012
7:37 pm

CONservative Johnson — “He almost did nothing in Cleveland.” … Really?

Jeff Schultz

June 24th, 2012
7:38 pm

Hmmm.... Regardless of who GM is, it would be nearly impossible to move JJ with that contract. Nobody who has that kind of money and cap space to spend on one player would do so on Johnson (in the opinion of most).

Jeff Schultz

June 24th, 2012
7:40 pm

Chem – Danny Ferry also left Cleveland when LeBron left so how can you judge teams that followed LeBron and blame Ferry? (By the way, coach also changed.)

Jeff Schultz

June 24th, 2012
7:41 pm

This smells fishy — Honestly, the thought of Ferry using Hawks as leverage crossed my mind more than once.

Beast from the East

June 24th, 2012
7:50 pm

Anyone with Ferry’s resume has to be an improvement. The problem will still be trying to maneuver around JJ’ contract.

CONservative Johnson

June 24th, 2012
7:51 pm

Jeff Schultz – “Really?”

Really! His rosters were no better than the Hawks’ roster that a lot of people around here hate. His best move was tanking a season, which allowed him to pick the best NBA prospect in a couple of decades.

What else did he do, Jeff? Didn’t everyone else in the media complain that he didn’t surround Lebron with enough talent?

Max

June 24th, 2012
7:52 pm

What roster moves did Danny Ferry make that resulting in success??? Mo Williams from the Bucks as a PG to go with LeBron? Psh. Antwan Jamison is a legit #2!?!?! Come on now, I know basketball isn’t your forte but anyone can see Danny Ferry’s moves were not helping the Cavs chances. Although I will admit anyone who works for the Spurs gets the benefit of the doubt.

Artman

June 24th, 2012
7:57 pm

Jeff, the biggest issue will be dealing with the ASG. You know, the ones who decided to bring back the coach prior to getting a new general manager. Do you think that is how they do things in San Antonio? I bet he has close to zero autonomy in running the Hawks.

Must go

June 24th, 2012
7:58 pm

As a Duke alumn I welcome Danny. However even with Danny I will not support the Hawks or step foot in Philips until ASG sells the team and arena. Sell. Sell. Sell

Jeff Schultz

June 24th, 2012
8:00 pm

CONservative Johnson — I thought getting Mo Williams was obviously a good move. I thought getting Shaq and Antawn Jamison were aggressive moves. I thought – and think — Mike Brown is a good coach. I don’t know all of his decisions off hand but NBA people I respect respect him as a personnel guy. And like I wrote, San Antonio Spurs are one of most respected organizations in sports, not just NBA, and they hired Ferry twice. Good enough for me. There’s absolutely no question he is going to get another GM job, question is which one he takes.

CP

June 24th, 2012
8:02 pm

Let’s hope the Hawks have the good sense to hire BEFORE the draft and not after. Though it would be typical to saddle Ferry with Sund’s picks…

CONservative Johnson

June 24th, 2012
8:07 pm

Jeff, do you think the team we mentioned that smoked us in the playoffs (Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, Ben Wallace, Delonte West and Mo Williams) was any better than the team we have now?

Max

June 24th, 2012
8:08 pm

Shaq was a terrible move.

Double Dribble

June 24th, 2012
8:10 pm

Ferry would be the best hire we could get at GM. He’s already dealt with an idiot owner (Gilbert), so the Octocluster would be nothing new. And some championship (even if its just conference) blood in this franchise would be nice for a change.

slydog

June 24th, 2012
8:11 pm

The Hawk’s GM job is really simple:

#1 You have to ride out JJ’s contract unless one of these teams are in dire need of his services: Lakers, Bulls, Knicks, or Celtics; all teams with money to burn

#2 Make the heart-wrenching decision to trade both J. Smith and Horford in exchange for 1st rounders, preferably lottery picks; Stop wasting time playing yourself out of the lottery if you know for a fact you will never advance past the second round. Any team not going anywhere will do.

Rutherford Seydel

June 24th, 2012
8:20 pm

I haven’t heard anything about this. Then again, they don’t really keep me in the loop.

CONservative Johnson

June 24th, 2012
8:21 pm

MY BAD:

I’ve been giving Ferry credit for tanking a season to draft Lebron. But that was done before he got there. So, now I don’t know that he did anything at all that would qualify as a good move . . .

OH . . .

What he did was allow Lebron to leave without signing him to an extension or trading him! MY GOODNESS!

Erik

June 24th, 2012
8:36 pm

If it weren’t for that incredibly stupid Joe contract, this GM job might actually be a somewhat attractive position. The only players other than Joe that we have under contract beyond next year are Al (3 more yrs beyond next), Marvin (1 more – it’s a player option), and Teague (1 more). Conveniently ignoring the albatross that is the Joe contract, there could be a lot of flexibility there.

Then again, that would also require you to ignore the horrible ownership.

Erik

June 24th, 2012
8:55 pm

slydog,

They’re going to have to ride out Joe’s contract for at least 2 more years. He has 4 yrs left on it and nobody is going to want him until he’s down to the last year or two.

Otherwise, I think you’re right on with your analysis. Might as well tear down and start rebuilding now. Use the 2 years to clear out all the other crap and acquire a bunch of draft picks. If they take their medicine now, they could really be in good shape when they’re finally able to dump Joe.

Jeff Schultz

June 24th, 2012
9:10 pm

Folks: Hawks have released a statement confirming conversations with Danny Ferry. I inserted the statement in the blog.

CSD

June 24th, 2012
9:17 pm

Danny loves overpriced shooting guards he’ll love him some JJ. After locking up Larry Hughes to a silly contract and outbidding himself the Cavs had no flexibility for years and didn’t develop young talent with Lebron. Hughes had no outside shot and he couldn’t help spread the floor. As a slasher he was a horrible fit. Danny went on to sign lots of over the hill talent in Cleveland. That will be another skill set that will suit him well in the ATL.

Section 303

June 24th, 2012
9:20 pm

This is good news. Ferry can do a good job here, pending the up aboves stay out of his way.

donte080

June 24th, 2012
9:21 pm

This would be a great move…but better if done a couple weeks ago to give Ferry time to analyze team before draft….but I guess that would be asking too much…

CSD

June 24th, 2012
9:23 pm

Danny Ferry was an overpriced waste as a player for the Cavs and he was a GM that squandered arguably the greatest player ever’s talent. He must interview well.

All this for a players who in best season averaged 13.3 points per game?

“The Clippers traded Ferry’s rights on November 16, 1989, along with Reggie Williams to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for high-scoring guard Ron Harper, two first-round draft picks and a second-round pick.”