The Brooklyn Nets are currently a mess, but they can start gaining back some credibility and respectability as an organization by hiring the right general manager. It’s why they’ve been so thorough in their search process for a new GM, gauging potential interest and narrowing down their list of candidates.
That list might include Danny Ferry, but given all his negative baggage compounded with the current state of the franchise -- which happens to be located in perhaps the biggest melting pot in America -- it would be a mistake to hire him.
Ferry ultimately stepped down from his post as GM of the Atlanta Hawks after he read a racially insensitive scouting report about potential free agent-to-be Luol Deng during a conference call with ownership.
The scouting report said that Deng -- who will face the Nets on Tuesday night at Barclays Center as a member of Miami Heat -- “has a little African in him” before adding, “He’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front and sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.”
Behind the scenes, former GM Billy King has been pushing Ferry’s candidacy. King and Ferry played together at Duke and are lifelong friends. They both interviewed for the Nets’ GM job in 2010 before Ferry ultimately dropped out and went to Atlanta. And despite being demoted, King still manages to hold influence with owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s No. 2, Dmitry Razumov.
The concern is that if Ferry somehow managed to beat out all the other candidates -- and given King’s persuasiveness combined with Razumov’s impulsiveness, you never know -- King would manage to obtain an advisory role with the Nets, retaining many of the “yes men” who have worked under him.
And imagine the potential PR backlash. The mere idea of activist groups picketing outside Barclays Center is the last thing a diverse, image-conscious franchise that has spent so much energy building its brand in Brooklyn would want.
Plus, how would perspective free agents feel about playing under Ferry given his comments? Brooklyn could have approximately $40 million in cap space heading into the summer.
The Nets can avoid all of these potential pitfalls simply by selecting someone else -- and there are plenty of intriguing choices. ESPN.com has reported that two-time Executive of the Year Bryan Colangelo is high on Brooklyn’s list, while Yahoo! Sports added that Nuggets assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas and Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas are also “serious candidates.” A new voice with a fresh perspective is needed in Brooklyn.
Ferry, the architect of last season’s 60-win Hawks’ team that advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, has since apologized and maintained he was reading off information from a third party; an investigation by a law firm corroborated as much.
Hopefully he has learned from his mistake -- and perhaps ends up getting a second chance, maybe in a smaller market. But if the Nets are considering Ferry, why didn’t they just keep King? There’s simply no need for all the negative baggage.