Report: Hawks franchise to officially go on sale next week

All ownership groups, including controlling owner Bruce Levenson (above), have agreed to sell the Atlanta Hawks.

John Bazemore/AP

The Atlanta Hawks franchise is on the market and will officially go on sale next week, according to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

All three ownership groups that currently hold stakes in the Hawks have agreed to sell their portions of the franchise, meaning 100 percent of the team is available for purchase. The report says the process of gathering and vetting prospective buyers can get underway, and that the franchise is expected to sell for more than $600 million.

The Hawks front office recently has been the source of controversy. First, general manager Danny Ferry made a racially insensitive remark about free agent Luol Deng on a conference call. Ferry has since asked for — and been granted — an indefinite leave of absence, and his status will likely now be determined by whatever ownership group takes control of the team.

During the investigation into Ferry’s comments, an email was discovered containing racially charged remarks by controlling owner Bruce Levenson. In addressing the Hawks’ poor attendance numbers, Levenson’s email said, "My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a signficant (sic) season ticket base."

The ownership group led by Levenson then vowed in September to sell its 50.1 percent stake in the franchise. After the controversy surrounding Levenson came to light, several people stepped forward to express interest in buying the team, including former NBA players Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Webber.

Whatever group ends up taking control of the Hawks, the team is unlikely to be moved to a different market. Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed has made it clear the city is committed to keeping the franchise.