‘Melo Says No One Will Want To Play For Hawks After Ferry’s Deng Comments

We’ve alluded to this problem before even as the Hawks continue to keep GM Danny Ferry in his leadership position after his inappropriate comments about Luol Deng came to light. Now Carmelo Anthony tells ESPN New York’s Ian Begley the controversy means there aren’t likely to be many free agents who want to sign with Atlanta, yet another sign Ferry should make his indefinite leave of absence permanent.

Here’s what ‘Melo told ESPN’s Begley today at his Citi Basketball camp in Manhattan:

“[There] ain’t nobody [who] would want to go there. At the end of the day, Atlanta, I think it puts Atlanta back even further now, from that standpoint.

“Atlanta is a great city, a great market, great people, great atmosphere. But as far as the comments [that] were made, I think it was uncalled for. From an owner, from a GM, those are not things you play with.”

Anthony was one of the preeminent free agents in the summer of 2014 before electing to re-sign with the Knicks for a reported five-year, $124 million contract. Anthony’s name was mentioned in the beginning of the audio released of Ferry when he referred to Luol Deng as having “a little African in him.” The phone call was precipitated by a Cavs front office scouting report on Deng, but ‘Melo is mentioned as a possible acquisition with Ferry debating whether he’s worth the approximate $20 million plus a year he was being offered this summer.

Ferry said in the right situation Carmelo was worth that sort of money, but it’s clear from Anthony’s comments to Begley Atlanta is no place for him or his family and he doubts it will be as long as Ferry is in charge:

“As a player, as an athlete, we’re looking for a job, we’re trying to find a place where we can move our family, we can make our family comfortable, where we can be comfortable in a comfortable environment,” Anthony said. “But those comments right there, we would never look at [playing there].

“I’m speaking on behalf of all athletes. We would never look at a situation like that, I don’t care what it is.”

When ‘Melo was asked whether a change in the ownership — majority owner Bruce Levenson is looking to sell — or at the GM position, would change his stance on the team and franchise, ‘Melo was non-committal saying it’s going to “take a collective effort.”

“That’s not going to change overnight. I don’t think that just happened overnight. That’s been an accumulation over the past couple years. A lot of people think that it just happened, but it’s been going on for the past two or three years now.”

Anthony is one of the first NBA players to come out and say publicly that Ferry’s comments will affect Atlanta’s chances of acquiring players in free agency, and the behavior of ownership on down to the general manager has tarnished Atlanta’s reputation in the eyes of NBA players.

Since Ferry is still at the helm — though he’s currently taking a leave of absence — and so many have come out in support of Ferry, it’s still unclear whether he’ll remain in his current position. CEO Steve Koonin asked an Atlanta law firm to do an exhaustive background check on Ferry before deciding to punish him internally, but he’s kept him on as general manager.

Koonin recently apologized with an open letter to Hawks fans on the team’s website, but he might need to update the letter if Ferry’s continued association with the team limits their ability to put the right personnel on the court. Anthony’s comments, if they’re shared by others in the NBA, could be the clearest sign yet Ferry needs to go and a general Hawks house cleaning along with it.

(ESPN New York)

Is ‘Melo right about the Hawks?

Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.