Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer talked at length with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as he prepares for training camp and addressed the controversy surrounding the franchise and General Manager Danny Ferry.
Budenholzer acknowledged that the situation has been difficult for everyone involved but supported Ferry saying that race has never been an issue and that his comments about then free agent Luol Deng were out of character.
It has been difficult. Danny is a friend and somebody I care about. I think he's made mistakes and I think he's acknowledged them and he wants to learn and grow from this. He put me in this (coaching) position and I have strong feelings for him. I understand that he has made mistakes and I understand that we need to build and repair the trust. He's a friend of mine.
"I've known Danny for 15-plus years, as a player, as an assistant coach and now as a head coach and a friend. Race has never been an issue with Danny. Comments like that, I would say, are very much out of character."
Ferry is currently on an indefinite leave of absence from the team but has garnered support from around the league of late from the likes of former Lakers great Magic Johnson and former teammate Tim Duncan.
With Ferry away, Budenholzer has assumed control of basketball operations for the Hawks and indicated that he would lean on the staff that the team has in place while navigating both jobs.
"We have an incredible group here with our management and our basketball operations, scouts, assistant coaches and medical staff. I think it's what we feel is the best solution in a tough time. I'm excited to continue to fight for our guys, protect our guys and protect what we have been building and continue to move us forward. We have done everything collaboratively since I arrived. So in a lot of ways as much as possible we are going to continue to work and continue to do business. In a tough time, this is the best solution."
It won't be easy to manage but the Hawks appear to be in great hands and moving forward from what is a difficult situation.