They always say that if you are going out you had better go out while on top, and that phrase applies directly to former Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson. Bruce Levenson purchased the Atlanta Hawks back in 2002 through the Hawk Spirit LLC. He helped manage and cultivate the team for the past 14 years and made them into the yearly Eastern Conference power houses that they are today. It took awhile but Atlanta finally had a season that would make any team owner proud: Franchise record in wins, Eastern Conference Final berth (first time in 50 years!) as well as almost a full line up of starters in the All Star Game. Not a bad time to sell, right?
When the Los Angeles Clippers were sold this past year for a stunning multi billion dollar deal the market was dramatically re-adjusted. The going rate for NBA franchises seemingly doubled and that was definitely what happened with Atlanta. Last year they were estimated at a value of close to $400 million. When Antony Ressler, along with his group of buyers, closed their deal the Hawks ended up selling for close to $850 million. Levenson on ajc now gets to step away from the franchise as a winner in multiple different ways. So what will Antony Ressler be getting for his money?
Antony Ressler had an estimated value of close to $1.4 billion so it seems pretty clear that he knows how to make money, and that means making smart investments. The Atlanta Hawks, right now, are one of the smarter investments in the NBA. The Hawks are coming off of the aforementioned 60 win season and they’ve retained a vast majority of their Southeast Division winning roster. The Atlanta fanbase is finally showing prolonged interest in the NBA team and now there is a possibility for Ressler to cultivate some long term momentum for the team.
Right now Atlanta is looking like a lock for one of the top 10 spots in the NBA power rankings. By retaining Paul Millsap and plugging in some veteran acquisitions (Tiago Splitter, Tim Hardaway Jr.) the Hawks have retooled and refueled for another deep run. Going three rounds into the NBA playoffs after a grueling regular season will wear any players down, so having new blood infused into the roster is pretty important.
The big focus for Atlanta, and Ressler in particular, will be the start of the 2015 – 16 regular season. Right now Atlanta is being downplayed by critics and analysts and a slow start could lead straight into a prolonged slump. The East has gotten competitive enough that a prolonged slump could spell long term trouble for a team even as talented as the Hawks.