Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said on Tuesday that he has already talked to six potential buyers for the embattled Atlanta Hawks.
The Atlanta way
The Hawks have been under the microscope since the decision of majority owner Bruce Levenson to sell his ownership shares as a result of an “inappropriate and offensive” 2012 email which he voluntarily reported to the NBA in July. Related to that, it was also discovered that GM Danny Ferry made racist remarks against free agent Luol Deng during a conference call with the team owners last June.
Reed did not name the six potential buyers, but he expects the sale to proceed quickly and smoothly. He also said that the crisis would be solved “The Atlanta way.” The prospective buyers will go through “a process vetted by the NBA.” Commissioner Adam Silver has lined up an investment bank to look into the finances of any buyer.
New majority owner
Reed added that Ed Peskowitz, the Washington based partner of Levenson, has also decided to sell his share of the team. This means that while the local minority owners led by Michael Gearon Jr. and Rutherford Sydel are reportedly keen on keeping their ownership shares, the potential buyer becomes the new majority owner as the shares of Levenson and Peskowitz are a combined 50.1% of the team ownership.
Ready to take a bigger role
Former Hawks franchise player and now color commentator Dominique Wilkins has expressed his willingness to “take a greater role with the franchise” with the departure of Levenson and the leave of Ferry.
Danny Ferry has decided to take an indefinite leave from the team as a result of the scandal. A lot of groups have been calling for Ferry’s ouster, but CEO Steve Koonin has refused to fire Ferry, saying instead that management has “disciplined” the GM. The punishment wasn’t disclosed although Koonin said it was based on the result of the independent investigation conducted by an Atlanta law firm hired by the Hawks. Despite that, Ferry’s future with the team is still uncertain even if he wasn’t fired because once the new ownership is in place, it will have the free hand in appointing a GM of its choice. After Danny Ferry’s blunder, it’s unlikely that he will be absorbed by the new owner/s.
The city of Atlanta is set to honor Wilkins with his own statue outside the Philips Arena before a March 6 home game against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Known as the Human Highlight Film during his heyday, Wilkins is one of the most recognizable stars in the team’s history and one of the city’s most beloved athletes. Mayor Reed said that the city’s civic leaders would “look favorably” on Wilkins’ possible involvement with the new management.