The Atlanta Hawks and general manager Danny Ferry officially parted ways on Monday, more than eight months after Ferry took an indefinite leave of absence after making racially insensitive remarks about Luol Deng.
Ferry was the chief architect of the most successful season in franchise history as Atlanta won a team-record 60 games before being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The 48-year-old Ferry signed a $18 million, six-year contract with Atlanta when he was hired away from the San Antonio Spurs in 2012.
Ferry made several successful moves during his tenure, including hiring Mike Budenholzer, a former Spurs assistant. Budenholzer was named the NBA’s coach of the year this season after the Hawks clinched the Eastern Conference’s best record.
Budenholzer was put in charge of the team’s basketball operations after Ferry left the team before the season.
Ferry has been on indefinite leave of absence since September, when an audio recording of him discussing free-agent-to-be Deng emerged after a June conference call with Atlanta ownership and management. Ferry was heard saying, "[Deng is] a good guy overall but he's not perfect. He's got some African in him. And I don't say that in a bad way.”
Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said in a statement that Ferry is not a racist and “showed great leadership” when he stepped aside from his duties this year.
“Danny Ferry is a tremendous GM. Danny was the principal architect of the Hawks’ success in Atlanta. From the hiring of Coach Bud to reinventing the roster, Danny's vision has put us in the tremendous place we are today,” Koonin said. “Danny acted with integrity and professionalism as he guided the organization through important changes over the last few years.”
Ferry said he was relieved after an investigation cleared him of any hostility towards Deng, but added he doesn’t know if he feels vindicated. He says the team refused to release the results of that investigation until after the season.
“That’s not really for me to say,” Ferry told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But I do feel relieved. I’ve been asking the Hawks for many months to release the results of the Taylor investigation because I wanted everyone to have those facts.”
“Now, does that make my comments about Luol okay? Absolutely not,” Ferry added. “The words I used from the scouting report came out of my mouth and they were totally inappropriate. I am deeply sorry and take full responsibility.”
- Scooby Axson