The Atlanta Hawks are going to have to follow up their franchise record setting season with a new owner in the Owners Box next season. Bruce Levenson, who had purchased majority shares in the team back in 2004, has moved on after selling the franchise to billionaire Antony Ressler. Levenson was in charge of franchise operations for the past 11 years and along the way he helped turn the team around in a big way. Levenson will leave behind a history that sets the Hawks up for legitimate contention. Now it will be up for Antony Ressler to keep the momentum moving ever forward. Let’s take a look at the deal Ressler scored and how the Hawks will operate going forward.
Big Budget Franchise
In 2013 we saw Forbes estimate the value of the Atlanta Hawks at around $400 million. That number is large but nowhere near the final number that Antony Ressler ended up paying for the team ($850 million). Thanks to big sales in the L.A. Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks, the team ownership market got a dramatic boost in value. Levenson founder of UCG saw the value of his team skyrocket at the same time that they were having major success on the court. With a fan attendance ranking at 15th in the league, the Hawks were a big sale waiting to happen. Ressler had previously been outbid for the L.A. Clippers as he was unable to go to the $2 billion number required, but he wouldn’t be held back from getting Atlanta. A buying group including Grant Hill and Antony Ressler eventually got the job done.
Establishing Forward Momentum
Atlanta went on to win 60 games under Head Coach Mike Budenholzer and owner Bruce Levenson. This was a franchise record for regular season wins and it was followed up by a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 50 years. Atlanta fans showed up in droves to support their suddenly competitive team and the expectation will be much the same going forward for Atlanta. This is where Antony Ressler is going to have to be very careful about how he treads. The Hawks can’t endure a regression as new ownership tries to set themselves up. Thankfully Ressler has already shown a willingness to spend (resigning Paul Millsap) and hopefully that is a sign of things to come.
Coach Budenholzer saw the majority of his starting line up make the All Star Game last season and he’ll hope to have the same happen yet again. The loss of swing forward DeMarre Carroll definitely hurts but there is internal belief that guys like Kent Bazemore and Tim Hardaway Jr are ready to step up and bear some of the burden. Antony Ressler has already made moves to shore up the depth of the roster, acquiring Hardaway Jr and Tiago Splitter, so it will be up to Budenholzer to acclimate these fresh bodies into the rotation. With renewed depth and momentum from last season, we can see Atlanta competing once more for the Eastern Conference.