Monday, December 27, 2010

Expanded Thoughts On the Resolution of the Ownership Dispute

Kris Willis offered a thoughtful Boxing Day piece on
the ownership situation over at Peachtree Hoops. His conclusion:
I have to think Belkin's ouster from the Spirit group is a good thing for the franchise going forward. Number one the search for new investors in the group can proceed at full force now. No investor is seriously going to consider coming on board in a situation when the first thing they might be asked to do is pay off a settlement to a disgruntled ex-partner. This in reality is probably priority one as the Spirit had to go into their bank accounts to pay some sort of settlement to Belkin so I wouldn't expect the Hawks to run out and make a trade that takes them into luxury tax territory just yet.

No one other than those on the inside really know the constraints that the lawsuit had on the day to day operations of the club. There have been times where we have raised the question that perhaps Rick Sund has to jump through a few more hoops than a lot of GM's do such as the coaching search this past off season. If anything this should clearly define the roles of those in charge going forward.
As it disclaims at the top of this blog every day, I'm naturally pessimistic and, though the lawsuit surely discouraged new investors, I'm not sure the opportunity to give money to the guys who spearheaded offering the worst contract in the NBA is going to be especially attractive. The only way I see the resolution of the ownership dispute having a profoundly positive impact on the franchise is if it somehow causes Gearon and Levenson either to reform their behavior as owners or sell the team to someone who proves to be a better owner.

It is probably more likely that someone buys the Hawks from Gearon and Levenson now that the internal dispute is resolved. That could be good for Hawks fans because Gearon and Levenson have displayed a great enthusiasm for making decisions that, in better-run franchises, fall to basketball people: remember not just that they (allegedly) overruled Sund in hiring Larry Drew but that Sund is the GM in the first place because he, unlike other candidates, accepted that he would not have a choice in whether or not to re-sign Mike Woodson. Which shouldn't have been a surprise considering Sund's predecessor was not allowed to decide the fate of the head coach purported to work under him.

In both their actions and public comments, Gearon and Levenson have demonstrated little basketball acumen. Despite having their two best players locked in to reasonable, long-term deals, their propensity to vastly overpay to keep role players has the team facing a terribly limiting salary cap future. Furthermore, whatever the difficulties of the market, they have not succeeded in making the team attractive to new or casual fans.

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