Danny Ferry is back in NBA — and he deserved that chance

Former Hawks general manager Danny Ferry not worked in the NBA the last two seasons, although he didn't officially step down from the Hawks until 2015. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

Former Hawks general manager Danny Ferry not worked in the NBA the last two seasons, although he didn’t officially step down from the Hawks until 2015. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

When the roof was caving on the Hawks in 2014 because of a racially charged email from a rock head owner (Bruce Levenson) and an ill-advised, similarly racially insensitive scouting report by their general manager (Danny Ferry), I wrote that the organization needed to clean house. That included Ferry.

I still believe today what I wrote then:Ferry needs to go. He’s damaged goods. He has done a more-than-admirable job in his two years as general manager, ridding the franchise of Joe Johnson and other bad-fit pieces, acquiring smart and disciplined players and hiring a coach, Mike Budenholzer, who has helped point guard Jeff Teague take his game to the next level. The Hawks aren’t great yet, but because of Ferry they’re not a punchline (on the court) either.”

It was never my position that Ferry shouldn’t work in the NBA again, merely that he had become too toxic to stay in Atlanta. Two years later, there has been more than enough time for the man to reflect on his mistake. It’s time to let him work again.

The New Orleans Pelicans are giving Ferry another chance. They have hired him as a special adviser. Ferry will work with general manager Dell Demps, who is a former vice present of basketball operations for the San Antonio Spurs, where he and Ferry previously worked together.

Ferry officially stepped down from the Hawks after the 2014-15 season. He had an extended stay in purgatory with the Hawks that season and there a dispute within the Atlanta Spirit ownership group at that time as to whether to bring him back. Levenson and his Washington partners wanted Ferry back. Michael Gearon Jr. and his Atlanta partners wanted him gone. Levenson and Gearon seldom agreed on anything so it didn’t figure they would start now, especially since Ferry seemed to have little use for the Gearons from the outset.

Both ownership factions attempted to manipulate the situation by leaking out information about one side or the other — but always with the comfort of anonymity, of course. I can personally tell you that I told one side I would only talk to them if it was on the record. They never called me again.

But it was clear Ferry was never going to be back with the Hawks, and after the Atlanta Spirit ownership group finally, mercifully, sold the team and Philips Arena to Tony Ressler and his partners, the decision to not bring Ferry back was cemented.

Coach Mike Budenholzer was named team president and Ferry officially stepped down June 22, 2015.

After two years out of the game, during which Ferry has spent time with his family and worked to raise awareness about vascular anomaly that affects one of his daughters, Ferry has been itching to get back with a team. He’s a smart basketball man and will serve the Pelicans well. Consider this is a relative career trial balloon for him because if things go relatively well over the next year in New Orleans and the Luol Deng scouting report incident fades into history, another NBA team won’t hesitate to hire him as their general manager.

Ferry couldn’t continue in Atlanta because he had become a polarizing figure and, regardless of what side of his potential re-hiring you were on, Ressler logically did not want to have to deal with that situation as a new owner. But for another team, Ferry makes sense. And it’s time he’s back in the league.

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32 comments
Jason Hart
Jason Hart

Does Schultz or Bradley still work at the AJC?

OH:IO
OH:IO

Hey Schultz, howabout a new article! 

SaulK
SaulK

nique runs the hawks---he didn't want ferry around! the man want the show to himself!

DamonH
DamonH

"similarly racially insensitive scouting report by their general manager (Danny Ferry)"


Ferry did not write the scouting report, he only read it ... how many times are people going to keep reporting the wrong information???? Seriously, sheesh ... come on people

Oscs
Oscs

So Schultz wanted Ferry run out of town on a rail, but he's ok with him going elsewhere. The Hawks will always be laughing stocks because of dumb moves like this.

Peachs
Peachs

The Danny Ferry thing really gave us a glimpse into what probably happens in so many of these sports teams, where you have some rich man's kid getting his new sport's car. 


How the press turned on Ferry is the real story here, what were they thinking. They never saw the new improved Hawks until it was too late and then let some spoiled kid punk the only organic winner we had in town. 

SaulK
SaulK

hawks, braves, falcons management and ownership----no clue what they are doing. It never changes in loserville.

dirtybird33
dirtybird33

Jeff Schultz - I hope you read these comments because you need to know that the AJC constituency sees you as a wannabe journalist. You're a fraud. You're the one who should've been let go. You and your PC wannabe journalists associates contributed to Ferry's departure and you have ZERO integrity. What a joke you, your associates, and the AJC are! 

kenstallings
kenstallings

Jeff, you are still boldly peddling the falsehood that Ferry did anything other than simply read what the scout wrote.  It was a private meeting and it was patently obvious that Ferry found the scout's comments uncomfortable, but felt he had a professional duty to read the report as it was written.  


Danny Ferry should never had been treated as he was, and your unprincipled and wholly inaccurate journalism contributed to his plight.  The reality is that the owner did what he did simply to undermine the organization and help contribute to the destruction of the ownership group.  That owner's conduct is the only part of your report that you have gotten accurate.  


Ferry was and remains a human sacrifice made by that owner for his own selfish reasons, and the AJC and you played your blind and anticipated role to regurgitate the false narrative.

dirtybird33
dirtybird33

@kenstallings I completely agree with kenstallings. It's sad and this town continues to be a horrible professional sports town. Dominique got his way and the Hawks get to spend another 10 years plus in mediocrity at best. Moribund franchise covered by a pathetic group of journalists in this town.

Dawggie
Dawggie

Funny, but the only folks I remember thinking of Ferry as "polarizing" were members of the sports media.  Hawks fans overwhelmingly liked Ferry, and thought he was great for this organization, and city.  Now we can watch Ferry build something great in NO, while the Hawks begin floundering again.  Congrats AJC sportswriters . . .

Atlanta Man's Peachtree
Atlanta Man's Peachtree

What a dumb %&*#ed huge, huge hypocrite you are Schultzie. Seriously. I am speechless. Lemme collect my thoughts here for a second. You hated Levenson since day 1, and always wanted Ferry out, so now cause he's baaaaa-aack, you're wonna kiss his butt and say "Oh I sorry, I not mean what I said, like me pwetty pwease." 


And you continue to go on and on about the racist e-mail when clearly you still do not understand what racism is, and have demonstrated zero, zero integrity by never looking at, or mentioning Levenson's record out-side of the Hawks (and his record with the Hawks was pretty damn good too).  


Once again, noted black scholars (that is really smart people to you Schultzie) such as Kareem Abdul Jabbar  and others, examined the e-mail and found no racism, even defending Levenson against the likes of you. 

You speak from a megaphone that only goes one way, and write in shadowy terms about "inside knowledge," yet present none, not a word, zilch, nada, nuzzzink. What great journalism (I am being sarcastic here). 

Well Cap'n Ahab, your ignorance of social issues, and uninformed bias against Levenson is an obvious obsession to you. The Hawks ascension when Levenson was owner and black scholars interpretation of the e-mail prove you wrong on all the issues.  

dwayne
dwayne

Same ole same ole. In the ATL race baiters prevail. Nuff said.

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

Three of his four first round picks for this franchise were John Jenkins, Lucas Nogueira, and Adreian Payne. The man wasn't exactly Jerry West, although to hear some of you tell it he might as well have been.

dirtybird33
dirtybird33

@NajehDavenpoop If you're saying Ferry didn't do an outstanding job with the Hawks especially given the team he inherited, you're an absolute idiot.

Peachs
Peachs

A Duke grad bigot?  What were the Hawk's thinking?

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

Ferry was a pawn. Levenson and Baby Gearon were the polarizing figures. Ressler should have kept Ferry. By the way, Ferry made the mistake of reading someone else's insensitive words, an error for sure, but blown up beyond all reason by the manipulative Baby Gearon.

Dsyelxia
Dsyelxia

It is absolute idiocy that Tony Ressler and his posse ran Ferry out of town. The Hawks will continue to slide back into mediocrity. 

Ferry was the best GM that franchise had ever had and they dumped him because of minor political correctness that nobody was offended by - not even Luol Deng or Al Sharpton!

Ferry will get another GM job someday and don't be surprised if he wins a ring or two.

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

@Dsyelxia If Andy Young says, "Let him go back to work," and he did just that ... good enough for me. Should have been good enough for Ressler.

Dasdguy
Dasdguy

Atlanta's Loss. Ferry has a good eye for evaluating talent. Look for the Pelicans to improve dramatically.

Calel
Calel

We are far too sensitive in this society. I'm black, and I've made fun of shiesty Africans selling fake goods in Manhattan. Ferry was good at what he did. We should have been able to accept an apology and move on, because I'm guessing a black GM could have made a similar remark about a European player without consequence. New Orleans will benefit from having this guy. It's a shame that in this city, with the all the second chances given to a few local politicians and "celebrities," that a guy like Ferry was run off without given a second chance. Bobby Cox beat the crap out of his wife, and I never read any writer in this city call for his removal. Otis Nixon was never run out of this city. But now a GM says something that might make some uncomfortable on a conference call and he had to go? Yeah, OK...we saw where Ferry's decisions took the Hawks. So expect them to be right back where they were before him.

patriotdog
patriotdog

Schultz, did you miss the fact that Ferry didn't write the report, that he was reading a report that was written by another? The fact that this was mentioned the very first day of the story, and then never again smacks of either lazy or vindictive journalism.

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

@patriotdog Ferry wasn't a Gearon boy. I think, though he can speak for himself, that Schultz respects the Gearons. Just an impression. I used to respect them too before this episode.

tyger
tyger

Good for Ferry...


I too thought he should go...

But not forever...


I'm more upset about...

Not drafting Draymond Green...


Than calling Luol Deng an African...

POV1948
POV1948

Hawks personnel decisions since Ferry ceased to be in charge have been random.  

RangeRover
RangeRover

And the Hawks haven't improved one iota since!