There is no deal in place yet, there is no sale pending. We don’t have answers to little questions such as who is buying the team. Or, how much they are paying. So, there’s a little work left to do.
But ownership groups have reached an agreement for 100 percent of the the Hawks to be sold, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Chris Vivlamore.
It is big news that all three of the often infighting ownership groups have agreed to sell their shares of the team to one controlling owner. That would be huge improvement for the organization, one that in recent years often has been held back by bickering and backstabbing as the owners fought for more power in the organization.
According to person familiar with the situation, agreements have been reached between all three ownership groups of the team. Those agreements have been approved by the league.
The Washington-based group, led by controlling owner Bruce Levenson, announced in September that it would sell its 50.1 stake following the discovery of a racially inflammatory email that rocked the franchise. An independent investigation discovered an e-mail Levenson wrote in 2012 that included racist remarks about the fan base and game operations. Levenson’s partners Ed Peskowitz and Todd Foreman are also stakeholders in the original group known as the Atlanta Spirit.
Agreements are also in place for the Atlanta-based group of Michael Gearon Jr. and Sr., Rutherford Seydel and Beau Turner to sell its stake. The group owned a combined 32.3 percent of the franchise. In addition, the New York-based group, led by Steven Price, has agreed to sell its 17.6 percent stake.
The team is not denying that it is completely for sale, but not confirming it, either.
Again it can’t be understated how much this matters — these three ownership groups cut each other off at the knees and made getting things accomplished difficult because they all fought to have the most say.
The Hawks current majority owners, known as Atlanta Spirit, purchased the Hawks, Atlanta Thrashers and Philips Arena from Turner Broadcasting in 2004. There was infighting and rumors of sales for years, then in 2011 they announced plans to sell the team to Alex Meruelo (who made his money in pizza and real estate), a man who would have become the NBA’s first Hispanic owner. However, financial concerns about Meruelo scuttled the deal and the team came off the market.
Whoever is buying the Hawks — likely for around $750 million or so total, that has been a ballpark number I’ve heard rumored from league sources — is buying a red-hot team.
The Hawks are 23-8 and currently the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Coach Mike Budenholzer has them playing great team basketball with seventh-ranked defense and 11th ranked offense in the NBA and getting All-Star level play out of Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and the often underrated Al Horford.
Hopefully whoever becomes new owner is smart enough to see that the Hawks finally have a system in place that is working on the court and doesn’t mess with it.