There has been a belief within the Hawks’ organization for several months that the team’s general manager is not going to be brought back. The thinking is that coach Mike Budenholzer (expected to get a new contract with a raise and more autonomy) and assistant general manager Wes Wilcox likely will be at the top of the basketball operations department, at least for the next year.
At this point, there are three scenarios for Ferry, but only two plausible ones:
• Ferry resigns: This is the favorite. It could happen any day. The Hawks likely would agree to pay off the balance of Ferry’s contract and it would allow him to make an exit statement along the lines of, “I’m proud of the work I did here but I feel it’s the best for all parties to move on.”
• Ferry is fired: It doesn’t serve anybody to have this thing end ugly, least of all Ferry, who wants to get another job (and will). But he has been resistant to leaving, loves living in Atlanta and it may come to this.
• Ferry is kept: Think “PowerBall” odds.
What Ferry said – using “African” pejoratively to describe Luol Deng – was grossly inappropriate. Even now, months later, I still don’t think that has been said enough.
But Ferry has both received a significant penalty and shown contrition. It seems he has spent his time away learning from his mistake, and that’s all you can ask at this point.
He has more than paid his penance. What has essentially become a one-year suspension was too great a penalty, but it came about due to circumstance. Ferry got stuck in purgatory as the Hawks soared and the team went up for sale. It’s past time to let him pursue his career.
That probably won’t be in Atlanta, where the team did plenty to regain (and even gain) trust this season. But Ferry should have a chance for other teams to judge him on the merits.
He still has plenty of friends around the league, and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get hired somewhere else – as long as he leaves the Hawks quietly without attracting more infamy. Ferry’s first choice might be staying in Atlanta, but prolonging attention on his tenure there would only further harm his reputation.