Hawks Owner: Changes Made "To Get Better"

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Story by KL Chouinard
Twitter: @KLChouinard

The Atlanta Hawks announced significant changes to their upper management structure on Friday.

Mike Budenholzer has resigned from his position as President of Basketball Operations, but he will remain as the team's head coach and will continue to have input into basketball personnel decisions. Wes Wilcox stepped back from his position as General Manager to become a special advisor to principal team owner Tony Ressler. The Hawks also stated their intention to utilize an executive search firm to identify and secure a new GM.

Ressler addressed the changes in a telephone conference call with the media.

"We're doing this in an effort to get better," Ressler said. "We've absolutely had some discussions and internal objectives, as you might imagine. How do we make ourselves a championship-caliber franchise? We thought that this would be the next best step for the franchise. Effectively immediately, we have Bud focused on being a great head coach, Wes focused on being a great advisor to ownership, and of course a search for a new GM."

The Hawks' owner said that he met with both Budenholzer and Wilcox at the conclusion of the season for sit-downs to talk about what the team could do to improve. 

"We had some fairly exhaustive discussions on how we could get better and how our decision-making process and franchise could go to that next step," Ressler said. "I would say that as a somewhat remarkable attribute of both: both Bud and Wes thought this (course of action) would be a positive for the franchise. I actually agreed with them after further evaluation, and that's why we're doing what we're doing." 

In addition to selecting a General Manager, the Hawks have upcoming player decisions to make at the NBA Draft in June and again during the beginning of free agency in July. Ressler said that the team would begin a broad search for the best candidate, and while the team would like to have a new GM in place before the draft, the top priority was finding the best person for the job and not rushing into a choice.

If no hire is made before the draft, Ressler expects the current leadership in basketball operations  Budenholzer, Wilcox, assistant general manager Jeff Peterson, director of player personnel John Treloar, and senior advisor Rick Sund  to come to a consensus on decisions from their current roles. 

"Rick Sund, who has some real experience in this (area), will help coordinate  and help us coordinate  as a point person in the process,” Ressler said.

Sund has more than 40 years of background as a basketball executive. 

"We do feel we have plenty of depth in decision-making on board."

Ressler ruled out Sund as a possibility for the position of GM, saying that Sund currently serves as a consultant to the team instead of a full-time executive. He also said that former NBA star (and current Vice Chair of the Hawks) Grant Hill was not currently under consideration. 

"I don't think there is any interest on either part, actually," Ressler said of Hill and the Hawks. "Grant is an advisor to me and to ownership. He knows a lot about basketball. I think he's pretty happy in his life and his current job as a business professional and broadcast executive. But as an owner, he gives us great input  and will continue to. But I don't think he has any interest in being president of basketball operations nor is he a candidate. He's an owner, a friend and an advisor."