News broke Wednesday afternoon that a group led by Tony Ressler had one the bid for the Atlanta Hawks along with the operating rights to Philips Arena. The franchise officially announced the sale during Wednesday's Game 2 playoff win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Before the sale becomes official it must be approved by the NBA Board of Governors. You might remember it was that step that tripped up the sale of the Hawks to Alex Meruelo in 2011. It is not expected to be an issue this time around because Ressler's group clearly has the funds for the purchase and he was heavily involved in the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers before ultimately losing out to Steve Ballmer.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution released a story on Wednesday that outlines some details from the sale. While it was initially thought that the entire Atlanta Spirit Group would be selling their stakes in the franchise, according to the AJC's story the Atlanta based group led by Michael Gearon Jr. will retain a percentage of the franchise. No word on how much of a percentage that is nor what kind of influence that group might have.
The AJC also reports that minority owner Grant Hill will "have a primary leadership role in the franchise." This also isn't surprising as Hill has been vocal in the past about getting involved with an NBA team. What role he will play though is still yet to be determined.
The biggest question going forward is what will be the fate of exiled general manager Danny Ferry once the dust clears. Like last summer, opinions are all over the map. Many see the presence of Hill as a positive for Ferry given their Duke ties. However, the continued presence of Gearon Jr and company cast more doubt on a potential Ferry return.
One thing is certain, Mike Budenholzer won't be going anywhere and new ownership should be sitting down with him quickly to work out a long term extension with the Hawks. Will he keep the President of Basketball operations title that he held since Ferry's departure? Is that where Hill will eventually fit? It is all speculation still at this point but it is something to keep an eye on. Assistant GM Wes Wilcox has played a major role in the Hawks success and wasn't named specifically in any article I saw but with Budenholzer and Koonin sticking around, it is likely that he will be here as well.
Its great to see a new era on the horizon for the franchise. We don't know what the future holds for the Hawks but we do know that the bar was previously set pretty low. Kudos to Koonin, Budenholzer, Wilcox and the players for turning the turmoil of last summer into the best season in franchise history. It took a special group to pull that off. While this might not be the complete refresh that some are looking for, you can't help but feel like good things for this franchise are on the horizon.