Ferry returns to NBA as advisor with Pelicans

Danny Ferry is returning to the NBA.

Ferry was hired as a special advisor to New Orleans Pelicans’ general manager Dell Demps, the team announced Wednesday.

Ferry was a key architect of the Hawks’ current run of success when he served as president of basketball operations and general manager from 2012-15. The return to basketball comes nearly one year after Ferry’s tenure with the Hawks came to a formal end June 18, 2015. A buyout was the culmination of a year-long leave of absence following a well-documented controversy over insensitive remarks he made about free-agent target Luol Deng during a conference call with team ownership and management in June 2014.

“I am excited to announce Danny Ferry has accepted our offer to join the New Orleans Pelicans basketball operations staff as a special advisor,” Demps said in a statement. “Danny’s experience, insight and achievements will be a welcomed addition to the Pelicans as we continue our quest to improve the team.”

Ferry will be a consultant to the Pelicans in a role similar to the one former Hawks general manager Rick Sund served under Ferry in Atlanta.

Ferry and his family have remained in Atlanta. He and his wife spearheaded the opening of a Vascular Anomaly Clinic in cooperation with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) and Emory in May. Ferry’s daughter Sophia suffers from the condition.

Ferry continued to stay involved in basketball while away from the game in an official capacity. He was a candidate for the general manager’s job with the Brooklyn Nets earlier this year.

“I have stayed busy with family, visiting different friends and teams, both NBA and college, and watching a lot of games to stay connected to the game,” Ferry told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in May. “Luol and I continue to stay in contact. We had dinner a few weeks ago, and we still have a project to do together.

“Again, so many people have been and continue to be really good to me, and I am appreciative. I am looking at different opportunities in the NBA, have had some very positive conversations, but the next move I make will definitely be what is best for my family as well.”

The Hawks had made the playoffs five consecutive seasons before Ferry was hired. Just months into the job, Ferry jettisoned the contracts of Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams in a rebuilding project. The Hawks went 44-38 in his first season and made the playoffs before a first-round loss to the Pacers in 2012-13. After hiring Mike Budenholzer as head coach, the Hawks went 38-44 and again lost to the Pacers in the first round in 2013-14.

Controversy struck that summer and Ferry took a leave from the team. A buyout was reached a day before the Hawks were sold to a group led by principal owner Tony Ressler. Budenholzer was named president of basketball operations and head coach and Wes Wilcox was promoted from assistant to general manager. The Hawks had a historic season by going 60-22 and reaching the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in franchise history last year. The Hawks went 48-34 and lost in the second round of the playoffs this year.

Before the joining the Hawks, Ferry was a member of the San Antonio Spurs organization from 2010-12 as vice president of basketball operations. From 2005-10, Ferry served as the general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Under his guidance, the Cavaliers posted a 272-138 (.663) record and advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history in 2007.

Ferry was the No. 2 overall selection in the 1989 NBA Draft out of Duke. He played for the Cavaliers and Spurs in a 13-year career until he retired in 2003.