Trans. Sep 12 11:34 ET (Sep 12 11:34 ET ) The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s release of Danny Ferry’s actual recorded words confirms what Adrian Wojnarowski already reported on Wednesday : Ferry was more than certainly the brains behind the needless and insulting comments about then-free agent forward Luol Deng, and the entire Atlanta Hawks franchise is in flux as a result. When I navel-gazed regarding Ferry’s future with the Hawks and the league he’s called home since returning stateside in 1990, I mentioned the absence of leadership as the most damning reason why Ferry should not continue with the team. To relay those thoughts and perceptions, be they his or the words of some witless scout, was so far off base that it still defies belief. It defies belief no matter how many times we’ve had to re-read or eventually hear the words that I won’t waste your time in relaying once again. What are worth relaying are the words of two of Ferry’s contemporaries in the general manager market. Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri and Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King have both known and have worked with Danny Ferry for years, and both spoke out on Thursday in regards to the thought process that leads to scouting reports like these, Ferry’s character as a person and professional, and his future. The Nigeria-born Ujiri, in an expertly-penned op-ed piece for The Globe and Mail , gets the first nod: R. C. Buford is the GM of the San Antonio Spurs. He was one of the first NBA executives to come to our Basketball Without Borders camps a decade ago. That same year, he adopted a young man from Cameroon. Wayne Embry is an adviser for our team. Forty years ago, he was the first African-American GM of an NBA team. Both of these men, whom I trust so much, are close to Danny. They have nothing but great things to say about him. The league is a small world. Other people I’ve spoken to who know Danny well say that he has never done anything they’ve seen to suggest he holds racist views. I spoke to Danny myself about this. He started off by apologizing to Luol. He apologized to me and apologized for any insult he’d offered to African people in general. He explained the incident as best he could to me. There are some things about that conversation I would like to keep between the two of us, but I came away feeling like I’d understood what he had to say. Here is what I have to say: I have no idea what is happening in the Atlanta Hawks organization, but I do know how the scouting world works. We all have different ways of sharing information about players and different vocabularies to do so. It crossed a line here. That said, we are all human. We are all vulnerable. We all make mistakes. You discover a person’s true character in their ability to learn from and then move on from those mistakes. One of the truly important things we must learn is how to forgive. Via Grantland’s Zach Lowe , here are King’s statements: King on Ferry: “I have known him since we were 15 years old. He is like a brother to me and he is the furthest thing from a racist.” — Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) September 12, 2014 The issue here is that nobody I know has called Danny Ferry a racist. I’m sure he’s been referred to as much in message boards I don’t frequent and comment sections I don’t peruse, but even with that highly-dubious Bonzi Wells incident from 2002 still lingering , I cannot recall any NBA voice of substance referring to Ferry in such strict terms. We do know that he’s prejudiced, because to impugn an entire continent as sneaky and backhanded by definition of its name alone shows a shocking lack of knowledge and character. We do know that he failed as a leader, because no voice of the basketball end of the Hawks franchise should be either relaying or (more likely) thinking and then expressing these thoughts as a way of describing a potential employee. I cannot recall who, but someone on Twitter recently wondered aloud as to what a scouting report in someone like Ferry’s hands would say for someone like Michael Beasley. Luol Deng is widely respected and the recipient of the NBA’s Citizenship Award, and Beasley is a career-wasting flameout that is looking to join his fourth NBA team in two calendar years right now, with little luck so far and with training camp just weeks away. The issue with that (appropriate) query is that good leaders don’t need to reduce themselves to even nastier language to describe someone like Beasley, who didn’t even bother to show some sort of care and concern for his game last season even while being gifted the opportunity to spell LeBron James and play deep into June with the Miami Heat. The same goes for Deng, even if he does have some batch of mitigating factors Atlanta Hawk owners should worry about. Mitigating factors we’re unaware of. (Though if it is true that Deng sometimes acts as an anonymous source for the press while denying as much, can you blame him? This is the guy that watched as the Chicago Bulls publicly scolded for not playing on a broken leg, before having to get an outside opinion that confirmed that, yeah, Luol Deng has a broken leg. This is a guy whose Chicago front office stood by silently while their coach – who knew exactly what was wrong with Luol Deng at the time – referred to his career-threatening botched spinal tap as “flu-like symptoms.” This is the guy that had to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, before the franchise got its head out of its tails and dumped the Chris Grant/Mike Brown regime.) Danny Ferry should have found some way to discuss Luol Deng’s merits and demerits and the sometimes beneficial overlap of the two in ways far better than the ones we read about on Wednesday , and heard on Thursday . Whether or not this misstep is a fireable offense in a vacuum is up for debate. This didn’t happen in a vacuum, though, and there are feelings to consider and a franchise’s future to think about. Donald Sterling wasn’t pushed out of the NBA because he’s a racist – the league has known about his line of thinking and discriminatory practices for decades. He was pushed out of the NBA because he was bad for business. The Hawks may have just signed Elton Brand, a solid pickup that shares a university affiliation with Ferry, but that doesn’t mean Ferry won’t be bad for their particular brand of business – be it recruiting players, fans, or potential owners – in many ways moving forward. Ujiri and King were right to talk about forgiveness, and after the initial shock and anger wore off, I think most of us have already forgiven Danny Ferry for what appear to be his own dumb thoughts and expressions. What matters now is the cold, hard world of creating a winning team and (more importantly) securing profits. In that regard, Ferry’s future is out of forgiveness’s hands. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
The Scoop:Brand was unsure of whether to retire, or come back for his 16th NBA season. The two sides worked out a deal and now it appears Brand will spend the final year of his career with the Hawks. He posted averages of 5.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks last year in Atlanta. At his advanced age he should not be on fantasy radars.
The NBA is most definitely perched in its slow season, with the top free agents long having signed away, and the anticipated deal sending Kevin Love to Cleveland still a few weeks away from being NBA-legal. Beyond Friday’s Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony, and the next time Nick Young beefs with whatever the heck an “Iggy Azalea” is, all we’ve left to do is wait out the futures of all manner of available free agents. Whether they be restricted, ancient, lunkheaded, undervalued, outmoded or just plain weird, they’re all out there. Here’s the best of what’s left: Eric Bledsoe It was rumored on Tuesday that Bledsoe would be willing to take the qualifying offer from the Phoenix Suns, play out his year, and hit the open market in 2015 as an unrestricted free agent. Whether this is a plant or not, it’s a solid feint from Bledsoe’s camp, which has absolutely no leverage in dealing with restricted free agency. Bledsoe was not a high end draft pick, so his relatively slim qualifying offer of over $3.7 million would be less than a third of what the Suns are reportedly offering for next year’s salary, and under a quarter of the maximum contract yearly averages that he desires. It would seem to be a solid gambit, plenty of teams will pounce on Bledsoe as their highly-compensated consolation prize next summer, and he should make up that sort of qualifying offer cash in the long run. Ideally. Bledsoe has already undergone two of the scarier NBA knee procedures in tearing his meniscus twice. During the second repair, it was revealed that surgeons decided to take what is usually a penny-wise, pound-foolish approach to the knee, but that decision may have been instructed more by the bad shape Eric’s knee was already in more than it was a move to get him back on the court. They may have had no chance. Not taking the guaranteed money is a risky move for Bledsoe, and while he’ll have solid free agent suitors next year if his knee goes out again, or he misses time (he’s missed a total of 72 games in four NBA seasons) with another injury, the market will worry the bottle. From there, we move to the Suns’ approach, which is a smart but uneasy one. Bledsoe has already acknowledged that the Suns are “ using restricted free agency against me ,” and while he didn’t say this unkindly, this cannot be fun. Bledsoe would seem to have a brighter future than most guards making $48 million over four years, especially provided that he continues to team with Goran Dragic, but again – two knee surgeries, 72 games missed, not a long track record of running his team on his own. And relatively iffy numbers when charged with as much with Dragic off the court next season. Bledsoe will likely stay a Sun. The only question is regarding how angry this Sun will be, and for how much money? Greg Monroe We’ve already discussed at length Monroe’s prospects in an earlier column , and little has changed since it came out. The Pistons are in a unique situation as they attempt to rebuild with both veterans on contracts, rookies on rookie deals, and Monroe’s restricted free agency looming. Monroe, like Bledsoe, has little if any leverage, and it’s reported that he’s convinced Detroit isn’t so much holding his feet to the fire as it is they just don’t want the guy back. That’s debatable, new coach Stan Van Gundy is a competitor and though Monroe isn’t his typical power forward, SVG probably thinks he can make light of Detroit’s currently crowded front court situation. Until a deal is reached, opposing teams aren’t going to waste time compiling a contract with Monroe just to get Detroit’s affairs in order, and they’re certainly not going to overpay and scare the Pistons away from matching a restricted offer. Monroe was a lottery pick, so he doesn’t take nearly as much hit as Bledsoe would in playing for the qualifying offer. Shawn Marion It’s worth noting that, though he had aged well in the years leading up to 2013-14, Marion’s production took a bit of a dive last season. His rebounding and assist percentage dropped severely, he shot less, and not even an uptick in three-point shooting (to a reasonable 35.8 percent) could stave of Shawn’s worst year yet. The addition of Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon’s heavy-usage ways may have played a part in some of that, but it’s important to note for teams looking for the Shawn Marion they saw in recent years, much less a decade ago. Cleveland and Indiana know that, however, and this is why they’re attempting to lure Marion for either frontcourt depth (the Cavaliers) or as a desperate bid to save a decimated small forward slot (Indiana). Marion would seem to be a great fit on the defensive-leaning Pacers, but it’s hard to believe the Pacers would break the luxury tax after years of taking a stance against such things, and Marion would have to play for “only” $2 million next season in order to allow Indiana from going over its limit. The team could add more wriggle room by releasing Luis Scola and Donald Sloan, but is losing depth at needed positions worth it to sign Marion at age 36? Especially when he’s a complementary player on a team full of players that can’t create their own shots? This is why the Cavaliers seem a logical destination, especially after a very public meeting with the team’s coach and general manager on Monday: @MySportsLegion @matrix31 in Ohio City today meeting with coach Blatt and gm David griffin... You heard it first pic.twitter.com/wgB6DSJ6iN — Joey Rosen (@RealJoeyRosen) August 4, 2014 It’s true that Marion would technically be brought on board to spell LeBron James, but if the proposed trade involving Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett goes down, even with Kevin Love coming into Cleveland the Cavs would be down a versatile forward, and nothing screams “WIN NOW!” like dealing the last two top overall picks and signing a 36-year old. Ray Allen Allen’s future has also been discussed recently in these parts , and his future is entirely up to him. Should he decide to return for his 19th NBA season, he’ll have the pick of the litter as just about every NBA team after his mix of sensibility and shooting. The Los Angeles Clippers, with former Allen cohort Doc Rivers running the show, would seem to be a candidate alongside Cleveland and Miami, but they’re just about hard-capped out entering 2014-15. Ramon Sessions Sessions seems criminally underrated just about every summer he’s available on the open market. He’s not ideal as a starter unless you’re boasting some sort of dream team alongside him, but as a penetrator and scorer he remains a productive player that is about to enter his prime. Sessions had to wait until September to sign as a free agent back in 2009, and this appears to be the case this time around as well. Sessions gets to the line a ton, especially for a non-star, he’s not a three-point shooter but makes up for that with his wily scoring instincts that figure to hold up over the next couple of years. Elton Brand The former All-Star looked his age last year, sturdily working as a reserve big man at age 35. His block rate continues to rise as the years move along, he remains a heady and long defender despite his 6-8 frame, though he rarely shoots and his rebounding rates are declining, and he’s a long seven years removed from an Achilles tear. Brand gave no indication as Atlanta’s year ended last spring that he was ready to retire, and he shouldn’t have to. As the NBA continues to get smaller and smaller, Brand’s footwork can still do some defensive damage off of a team bench. He won’t provide the sort of offensive spacing that teams are currently looking for in their bigs, but Elton Brand’s career shouldn’t be over yet. Jermaine O’Neal O’Neal didn’t suffer one massive, career-altering injury as Brand did in 2007, but he’s perpetually banged up, and you can just about pencil him in for missing a goodly chunk of the season. This isn’t O’Neal’s fault, his spindly frame and all-
The Scoop:Brand confirmed in April that he hopes to return of his 16th NBA season, and it seems he'll get his wish with at least a few teams vying for his services. He averaged 5.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks last season and will fill a niche as a backup big man, but he's no longer an appealing fantasy option at age 35.