- Chris Broussard, NBA analyst
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Ferry, an executive with the San Antonio Spurs, had not made his decision as of late Sunday night, but sources said it is highly likely that he accepts the Hawks' offer. Ferry would replace Rick Sund, Atlanta's GM the past four seasons. Sund, whose contract expires on June 30, could remain with the organization as a consultant.
The move toward Ferry is the strongest indication yet that the owners of the Hawks are no longer looking to sell their franchise.
Less than a year ago, the Hawks were nearly sold to Southern California millionaire Alex Meruelo, who would have become the NBA's first Latino owner. But the deal, worth a reported $300 million, fell apart in November during the league's approval process.
Still, many observers believed it would only be a matter of time before the Hawks were sold. But the fact that the team has offered Ferry a six-year deal seems to indicate that the current owners are intent on holding onto the club.
ESPN.com first reported Friday that the Hawks and Ferry had entered discussions about the GM position. Ferry was the Cleveland Cavaliers' GM from 2005-10.
After breaking off its own talks with Ferry, Philadelphia has decided to put off its search for a replacement for front-office chief Rod Thorn until after the draft. But sources close to the process told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the Sixers continue to have interest in Sund to serve as Thorn's replacement, which would reunite Sund with Sixers coach Doug Collins after they worked together in Detroit.
In a statement released to The Associated Press on Sunday night, the Hawks confirmed they have "reached out" to Ferry.
"As we continue to evaluate our franchise and look to build a championship caliber organization, we reached out to Danny Ferry," the Hawks said. "We are engaged in conversation regarding the Atlanta Hawks and our basketball operations. As the situation evolves, we will update at the appropriate time."
Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. told The Associated Press last month he hoped the 61-year-old Sund would continue as general manager.
Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson declined comment Sunday. Gearon did not return messages on Sunday.
Asked Sunday night about Sund's status, including a possible continued role as an adviser, Hawks spokesman Arthur Triche said in an email reply: "No details regarding that at this time."
Ferry became the Spurs' vice president of basketball operations in 2010. As the Cavs' GM, he led Cleveland through the most successful period in their history.
The NBA draft is Thursday. It is not known if the Hawks are hoping to reach an agreement with Ferry in time to direct the draft.
After advancing to the second round of the playoffs three straight years, the Hawks were eliminated in the first round by Boston this year.
The Hawks have exercised their option on coach Larry Drew's contract for next season but did not offer a new deal.
Atlanta finished 40-26, drawing praise from Sund for an "outstanding job," despite being without All-Star center Al Horford for all but 11 games of the regular season. Horford returned in Game 4 of the Celtics series.
The Hawks will return an experienced nucleus of Horford, six-time All-Star Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, who is entering the final year of his contract. Marvin Williams, point guard Jeff Teague and backup center Pachulia also are under contract.
The other nine players are free agents, leaving much work to be done by the general manager.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
13hAlok Pattani, ESPN Stats & Information
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