Hawks general manager Danny Ferry took an indefinite leave of absence before the season, trying to distance himself from the racist comments he made about Luol Deng.
Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer has run the front office since, creating a potentially awkward situation for Executive of the Year voters (executives themselves).
The Hawks have excelled this season, running away with the Eastern Conference with a balanced roster. Nearly any year, that would draw Executive of the Year votes – if not the award itself.
But this year, it draws confusion. Should voters pick Ferry (who remains absent), Budenholzer (who took control after the roster was mostly assembled) or avoid Atlanta’s executives completely?
The Hawks are attempting to provide clarity.
With general manager Danny Ferry on a leave of absence the entire season, the Hawks submitted head coach Mike Budenholzer for consideration in voting for the NBA’s Executive of the Year Award, a person familiar with the situation told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Budenholzer, via Vivlamore:
“Anyone who has followed the Hawks for the last two or three years knows that Danny Ferry is the executive who is most responsible for the makeup of our team,” Budenholzer said Sunday before the Hawks played the Wizards. “Danny is responsible for me being here. Our team is in a good place. I’m very grateful to work with such good players and with such a great staff.”
Everyone is correct here.
1. The Hawks should not have Ferry on the ballot. It would be embarrassing to them if he got votes, let alone won the award.
Really, the NBA shouldn’t want Ferry on the ballot. It would embarrass the entire league if he got votes.
Ferry did a bad job as an executive this year.
Sure, he put together an awesome roster – and he absolutely deserves credit for that. It’s an important part of his job.
But it’s not the only part of his job.
Ferry used the term “African” as a pejorative in the middle of a workplace conversation. I don’t care whether he was reading off a scouting report. I don’t care whether he’s a racist.
He did something racist, and it contributed significantly to fracturing the Haws’ relationship with their community. It damaged the NBA’s credibility on its handling of race.
That is why he did an awful job this year, and if he got Executive of the Year votes, it would say something about the league’s priorities. His job is not all about acquiring the right players. Far from it. He failed at very important aspects of his job.
Ferry, to his credit, has seemingly taken a sincere interest in learning from his mistake and making amends in his time off. If he has truly undergone that personal growth, maybe he could win Most Improved Executive (a fake award I just made up) next year.
But an award this year? No way.
2. Ferry is responsible for the Hawks’ roster. Budenholzer didn’t do anything to deserve this award, so he shouldn’t get votes either.
It’s an individual award – not one assigned to the entire Atlanta franchise.
Collectively, the Hawks have done a good job, including their response to Ferry and Bruce Levenson’s racism scandals. Of course, they’re nailing the on-court aspects of front-office work.
There just isn’t a person in the organization who deserves Executive of the Year. Ferry’s pros in the last year are outweighed by his cons, and Budenholzer is a placeholder.
For everyone’s best interests and what’s actually right, Executive of the Year voters should look past the Hawks.