Carmelo Anthony speaks for himself, though he tried to speak for everyone on the Hawks scandal:
“[There] ain’t nobody [who] would want to go there,” Anthony said at the Citi Carmelo Anthony Basketball ProCamp at Baruch College Saturday morning. “At the end of the day, Atlanta … I think it puts Atlanta back even further now, from that standpoint.” …
“As a player, as an athlete, we’re looking for a job, we’re trying to find a place where we can move our family, we can make our family comfortable, where we can be comfortable in a comfortable environment, but those comments right there, we would never look at. I’m speaking on behalf of all athletes. We would never look at a situation like that, I don’t care what it is.”
“It’s going to take a collective effort,” Anthony said. That’s not going to change overnight. I don’t think that just happened overnight. That’s been an accumulation over the past couple years. A lot of people think that it just happened, but it’s been going on for the past two or three years now … these are conversations that have been ongoing.”
Unsurprisingly, not everyone agreed.
Conversations with a cross section of black NBA players via text, email and phone revealed a wide and varied reaction to Ferry’s assessment of Deng, who is from South Sudan, and the email by Levenson—to Ferry—about his concerns that the team’s abundance of African-American fans were discouraging white fans from attending games.
One veteran power forward in the Western Conference said he still would play for Ferry and the Hawks. "The reason I say that is because I know Danny and that’s the only reason," he said. "Who knows the whole story? For me, I’ve dealt with him, so I don’t think he’s a racist. At the same time, if things were equal—playing situation, money and everything else—I might choose someplace else."
A small forward signed through this season said that while he doesn’t like the idea of playing for someone who would feel comfortable sharing a report of that kind, he also admitted to being pragmatic.
"I wouldn’t go there unless they were offering $40 million and the next best offer was $30 million," he said. "I’m not going to let someone mess with my money." He added, though, that he still wouldn’t shake Ferry’s hand.
NBA players do not share a single mind.
Playing time, coaching, roster makeup, off-court environment, family and, of course, money, all factor into where free agents sign. Everyone assesses and values those factors, and others, differently.
Just because Melo won’t sign with the Hawks doesn’t mean they’ll no longer get players. There are only 450 NBA playing jobs available at a time, and not all of those get filled. Competing with a huge talent pool and facing a scarcity of openings, many players would sign with Atlanta if given the opportunity
That said, this scandal will be a negative for almost anyone. The other factors – primarily money – will have to be right for the Hawks to land players, because right now, Atlanta’s organization is a mess.
It will pass, though.
Atlanta has already signed Elton Brand since this scandal broke.
Maybe Melo will hold a grudge. He’s good enough to pick his team, even when he’s under contract with another. But other players, without that security, will forgive more easily.