ATLANTA -- Hawks owner Tony Ressler was content with the current structure of the organization.
Then two weeks later, following meetings with the then-Head of Basketball Operations and current head coach Mike Budenholzer and then-General Manager Wes Wilcox, he felt a reorganization was in the best interest of the team.
Budenholzer and Wilcox helped him see that.
The Hawks announced on Friday that Budenholzer would relinquish his role in operations and remain the team's head coach. In addition, Wilcox stepped down as general manager and is becoming an advisor to the team's owners. The owners will search for Wilcox's replacement.
The Hawks have suggested that there were no firings, but that Budenholzer and Wilcox made the noble suggestion that a restructure was necessary.
"The truth is, at the end of the season, each Bud and Wes sat down with me and we had some fairly exhaustive discussions about how we can get better and how our decision making process and franchise can go to that next step. I would say as a somewhat remarkable attribute of both, both Bud and Wes felt this would be a positive for the franchise. I actually agreed with them with further evaluation. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing," Ressler said.
Ressler, who became the team's principal owner in 2015, said his feeling about Budenholzer or Wilcox's talents have not evolved over the past couple of weeks. But after meeting with them, he felt their talents could be used in a more appropriate manner.
"I love the idea of a head coach-- particularly a head coach as talented as Mike Budenholzer-- to be a head coach and not be conflicted by other requirements which I believe-- I think more importantly Bud believes-- will help him free him to do what he does best," Ressler said. "I would also argue a GM that has a vision, a long-term and short-term view, all of that in that system that can take us to the next level is obviously something we’re looking to have."
Budenholzer called the change a necessity in a statement released Friday.
"For our franchise, I believe that this was a necessary and positive set of changes. I am fully committed to the Hawks organization and look forward to helping with the search process and eventually working with the incoming GM,” Budenholzer said. “Together with ownership, the incoming GM and front office staff, and our coaching staff, we will continue to work toward building a team that can achieve a high level of sustainable success."
Wilcox said he was in support of the restructure.
“What makes our organization strong is that everyone is working together for the good of the Hawks. That was my thinking when Bud and I met with ownership after the season and recommended this new structure,” Wilcox said.
With free agency and the NBA Draft rapidly approaching, Ressler said the Hawks hope to have the next general manager hired an in place with time to spare. While he discounted possible candidates such as partial team owner Grant Hill and other members of the operations team such as Rick Sund, he did say there were multiple great candidates out there. Ultimately, the search is "wipe open," according to the owner.
If there is no hiring by the time it's time to make some major decisions, Ressler said there's plenty of depth in the operations team, and Budenholzer and Wilcox will certainly have input.
The Hawks were eliminated by the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs this season, losing the series 4-2. Budenholzer led the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals two years ago during their 60-win campaign. Wilcox became the general manager in 2012 following Danny Ferry's resignation following racial remarks regarding Luol Deng.
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