Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry has taken a leave of absence.
The temporary departure comes in the wake of a controversy stemming from Ferry saying that Luol Deng, a free agent who ultimately signed with the Miami Heat, had “a little African in him.” He subsequently characterized Deng negatively as a bit sneaky. Ferry claims the words came from scouting reports. A tape of the conversation, and the actual scouting report, suggests that although Ferry derived the assessment from raw reports from talent evaluators, he said rather than read the words verbatim. A Hawks scouting report proves that the words Ferry used more or less matched the words provided in the written evaluation of Deng. In other words, he paraphrased an assessment of Deng provided to him rather than offered his own assessment of the fellow former Duke player.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver opined earlier in the week that he doesn’t think Ferry’s words merit a resignation. The internal controversy over Ferry’s remarks led to an investigation, which ultimately resulted in Bruce Levenson deciding to sell the team. Levenson strategized in an email on ways the club might attract more white fans to games.
“This afternoon, Danny Ferry requested, and I have approved, taking an indefinite leave of absence, effective immediately,” Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said in a prepared statement released by the team. “This has been an incredibly difficult time for him and his family and it is my hope that this time away from the Hawks organization allows him the privacy he needs to listen to the community, to learn about his mistakes, and to begin the long process of personal healing. As a human being, manager and friend, I wish him well as he undergoes this process.”
Coach Mike Budenholzer takes over Ferry’s duties in his absence.