June 8, 2016, 9:29 am
On Wednesday morning the New Orleans Pelicans announced that they have hired former Hawks GM Danny Ferry as a Special Advisor to the team. Pelican’s GM Dell Demps said: “I am excited to announce Danny Ferry has accepted our offer to join the New Orleans Pelicans basketball operations staff as a special advisor. Danny’s experience, insight and achievements will be a welcomed addition to the Pelicans as we continue our quest to improve the team.”
ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that the move was made at the request of Demps:
ESPN sources say that the Pelicans are hiring Danny Ferry at the urging of GM Dell Demps, who worked closely with Ferry in San Antonio.
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 8, 2016
The two worked closely together in San Antonio and there is a great deal of mutual respect between the two. That said, Demps track record in New Orleans has been spotty at best while Ferry was the primary architect of the Hawks’ rebuilding effort from 2012-15. In his last full year as GM, Ferry’s team finished with a 60-22 record, winning the Southwest Division, before losing in the Conference Finals to LeBron’s Cavs.
Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports shed some light on the specific nature of Ferry’s role, writing:
Ferry will live in Atlanta and help with big-picture strategic planning, I've been told. https://t.co/aCa4XOZSyb
— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) June 8, 2016
If Ferry is able to bring the same level of success he found in Atlanta to the Pelicans, the franchise might finally have a stable direction moving forward. After a disappointing season in 2015-16 New Orleans will hope to return to the playoff hunt this season, and perhaps Ferry can be a part of this process.
We would be remiss if we didn’t touch on the circumstances that led to Ferry’s resignation from the Hawks. In June 2014, he was embroiled in controversy after reading an offensive scouting report aloud during a conference call. The Hawks were considering pursuing Luol Deng in free agency, and Ferry shared a racist comment written in a scouting report instead of editing out the remark. There were calls for Ferry’s resignation from both inside and outside of the organization, and eventually Ferry asked to take an indefinite leave of absence from the team.
For what it’s worth, an independent investigation concluded that: “The offensive language was not Ferry’s and none of Ferry’s remarks or behavior during the call were motivated by racial or ethnic animus, or by a person’s country of origin. To the contrary, the investigation found Ferry shared his own opinion of Deng, recommended him both personally and professionally and ultimately tried to sign him to the team.”
By joining the Pelicans Ferry gets another chance to shape the direction of an NBA front office.