HoopsHype Bruce Levenson rumors

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January 12, 2015 Updates

The Hawks have retained investment banks Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports to handle the sale of the team. Sources expect the team's "book," detailing the franchise's assets and liabilities, to be available for the interested groups by the end of this week, or next week at the latest. The Hawks have struggled in recent years to connect with the Atlanta community at large, losing market share to SEC football, NASCAR events and golf tournaments like The Masters in nearby Augusta. But the scarcity of NBA franchises and the potential of a market with 4.72 million people in the city and surrounding counties has a lot of rich people very interested in buying the team. NBA.com

January 8, 2015 Updates

Former National Basketball Association players Junior Bridgeman and Grant Hill are leading a group that will bid on the Atlanta Hawks, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. They’ve hired New York-based advisory firm Galatioto Sports Partners to explore a purchase, said the person, who requested anonymity because the matter is private. Hill didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment. Sal Galatioto, founder of Galatioto Sports Partners, declined to comment. Bloomberg

The team is also drawing interest from a group that includes BTIG LLC’s Steven Starker and Marquis Jet co-founder Jesse Itzler. “There’s extreme interest,” said Itzler, who became an entrepreneur after rapping under the name Jesse Jaymes, and who lives in Atlanta with his wife Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx Inc. “It’s still preliminary.” Bloomberg

January 5, 2015 Updates

Levenson has already said his group will sell its piece of the team, after the September disclosure of a 2012 e-mail he sent to general manager Danny Ferry decrying the lack of middle class white fans at Hawks games, and his racially-imbued reasoning as to why they weren't coming. For months, the league has been leaning on the Levenson and Gearon groups to come together. Sources said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had Levenson and Gearon up to New York just after the start of the season to try and hammer out a deal, without success. NBA.com

Remember, we thought it would take months -- years, maybe -- before the Clippers' mess was cleaned up and a new owner put in place to replace Donald Sterling. In reality, it took four months from the initial disclosure of Sterling's racially inflammatory remarks in April to the final approval of the sale of the team from Sterling's family to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion in August. But there's no guarantee things will go as planned. This isn't the same as Sterling. The league can't strip anyone in Atlanta of ownership. "There's already ownership in place there," a source with knowledge of the parties' inner workings said over the weekend. "It already is operating. There's nothing the league has to approve. And there's really no leverage the league has over them. You can't force someone to sell unless they violate the rules of the league and its provisions. What Adam does have is the power of persuasion." NBA.com

Gearon, Jr., has strong ties to the franchise; his father spent three decades with the team, rising from general manager to president to chairman of the board. According to the source, the ownership agreement between the parties "gives him a tremendous amount of say for a minority owner." NBA.com

January 2, 2015 Updates

The Hawks are for sale – as in 100 percent of the NBA franchise. According to person familiar with the situation, agreements have been reached between all three ownership groups of the team. Those agreements have been approved by the league. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Washington-based group, led by controlling owner Bruce Levenson, announced in September that it would sell its 50.1 stake following the discovery of a racially inflammatory email that rocked the franchise. An independent investigation discovered an e-mail Levenson wrote in 2012 that included racist remarks about the fan base and game operations. Levenson’s partners Ed Peskowitz and Todd Foreman are also stakeholders in the original group known as the Atlanta Spirit. Agreements are also in place for the Atlanta-based group of Michael Gearon Jr. and Sr., Rutherford Seydel and Beau Turner to sell its stake. The group owned a combined 32.3 percent of the franchise. In addition, the New York-based group, led by Steven Price, has agreed to sell its 17.6 percent stake. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The team will be officially on the market next week, according to a league source. The Hawks have retained investment banking firm Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports to handle the sale process. The firm will gather and vetting prospective buyers. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Nets Daily: A lot of decisions on NBA sales, values held up by Hawks discussions. if 100% is being sold, that sounds like a big price tag. Twitter @NetsDaily

December 9, 2014 Updates

When you’re worth around $20 billion you can write a check for $2 billion without flinching. But does that mean the Clippers are worth $2 billion, or that other NBA teams should see their revenue multiples expand to reflect this deal? I doubt it. But we may get a good idea if the Atlanta Hawks are soon sold. Bruce Levenson’s group is selling its controlling interest in the team and some believe the sale price will value the team at over $1 billion, or about eight times revenue. Forbes.com

November 10, 2014 Updates

Aldridge responds: If you are asking if the Hawks would move to Seattle some day, David, I think not. I'm not naïve enough to think there's no chance the Hawks could leave Atlanta, but I think the current chances fall somewhere between microscopic and impossible. The league has no desire to leave Atlanta and there's corporate money flowing throughout the city and state, more than enough to put a local group together with a chief rainmaker who would keep the team in town. As for Bruce Levenson's motivations, well, we've discussed those at length over the past couple of months. NBA.com

October 21, 2014 Updates

There was so much drama here lately, from part-owner Bruce Levenson announcing that he was selling his stake in the team to Danny Ferry‘s highly publicized situation involving his comments about Luol Deng and the firestorm that created. How have you and the other leaders on this team weathered that storm and kept your focus on the tasks ahead? Jeff Teague: We stayed insulated from all of that and just locked in on each other. We’re a good group of guys and we play for one another in that locker room. Coach Bud is a good guy and he’s straight up with us. He keeps everything up front and always treats us like men and tells us what’s going on and all you can do is respect. Me, knowing Danny, he’s a good dude. He’s never said or done anything disrespectful like that to me. So when those things came out I didn’t overreact or think he was a racist or anything like that. It’s a mistake that anybody could make. And he’s dealing with it right now. And hopefully, he can come back from it. NBA.com

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