Melo: Free agents will spurn Hawks

NEW YORK -- Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony believes future NBA free agents will be hesitant to sign with the Atlanta Hawks in light of statements made by general manager Danny Ferry.

"[There] ain't nobody [who] would want to go there," Anthony said Saturday at the Citi Carmelo Anthony Basketball camp in Manhattan. "At the end of the day, Atlanta, I think it puts Atlanta back even further now, from that standpoint.

"Atlanta is a great city, a great market, great people, great atmosphere. But as far as the comments [that] were made, I think it was uncalled for. From an owner, from a GM, those are not things you play with."

Ferry, paraphrasing a scouting report, described then-free agent Luol Deng as someone who "has a little African in him."

"He's like a guy who would have a nice store out front and sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back," Ferry said on the call, which was recorded.

Deng, who was born in what is now South Sudan, eventually signed with the Miami Heat.

Anthony, who tested free agency over the summer and ultimately re-signed with the Knicks, said players "wouldn't look at" Atlanta as a potential destination.

"As a player, as an athlete, we're looking for a job, we're trying to find a place where we can move our family, we can make our family comfortable, where we can be comfortable in a comfortable environment," Anthony said. "But those comments right there, we would never look at [playing there].

"I'm speaking on behalf of all athletes. We would never look at a situation like that, I don't care what it is."

The Hawks announced Friday that Ferry was taking an indefinite leave of absence, effective immediately.

"I realize that my words may ring hollow now and my future actions must speak for me," Ferry said. "I will maximize my time during this leave to meet with community leaders and further educate myself and others on the extremely sensitive issues surrounding race, diversity, and inclusion. I will find a way to make a positive difference in this area."

An internal investigation into Ferry's comments uncovered an unrelated email sent two years ago by the team's controlling owner, Bruce Levenson, who theorized that black fans were preventing suburban white fans from attending games.

Levenson said he was embarrassed by what he called an ill-advised attempt to improve the team's attendance and that he intends to sell his share of the Hawks.

Anthony was asked if an ownership or front-office change would remedy the situation in Atlanta.

"It's going to take a collective effort," he said. "That's not going to change overnight. I don't think that just happened overnight. That's been an accumulation over the past couple years. A lot of people think that it just happened, but it's been going on for the past two or three years now."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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