Atlanta Hawks owner pushes back on unflattering narrative

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

Perception is reality and Atlanta Hawks principal governor Tony Ressler is fighting back against the former in hopes of bringing clarity to the latter. It remains to be seen if he will achieve his goal after a slew of media hits on Friday.

Ressler appeared on ‘Dukes and Bell’ on 92.9 The Game as well as conducted sit-down interviews with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Athletic (subscriptions required).

Each time his message was clear on a few things including that all of the change in the front office was sparked by his long-held sentiments that he wanted a more collaborative effort between himself, the front office, and the roster. His most notable defense was, perhaps, that he has never directed the front office to make any decisions with regard to avoiding the luxury tax. This has been a common notion during his tenure.

“My job is to put the best people possible in charge of both business operations and basketball operations at the Atlanta Hawks,” Ressler told ‘Dukes and Bell’ noting that he should have spoken earlier to avoid the proliferation of what he considers misinformation. “Our front office has made every meaningful decision…which I have challenged and embraced, ultimately.”

But that message only flew so far with those who have kept receipts.

The Hawks eventually filled that final roster spot, though they did so with rookie wing Tyrese Martin who has logged a total of 45 minutes all season.

To be fair, Ressler suggesting they pull off such a move is wholly different from general manager Landry Fields (or former team president Travis Schlenk) pulling off such a maneuver. It is also hard to envision either of the latter two making some of the moves the Hawks have made that made the roster appreciably worse in critical areas without some sort of guidance.

Ressler also fought back against speculation that his son, Nick Ressler, was a deciding voice within the organization and was even making some feel uncomfortable. He insisted that if he did not feel his son was a valuable contributing voice, he would not be around.

He told ‘Dukes and Bell’ that idea was “disrespectful” to the front office.

The Hawks are coming off a 129-111 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers who boast the NBA’s fourth-best offense. Atlanta is getting set for a four-game road trip starting with a tilt against the Miami Heat but this media campaign is going over less than stell with fans, particularly in the comments of the piece from The Athletic.

Trae Young’s Future with Atlanta Hawks in Front Office’s Hands

One subplot of Ressler’s media tour was the certain lack of finality in his response regarding star point guard Trae Young. While repeating multiple times that the buck ultimately stops with him, Ressler did say that the basketball decisions will be left to the Fields’ front office.

He also sprinkled in praise for Young.

“Trae is an incredible player,” Ressler told ‘Dukes and Bell’. “But, when it comes to how and which players to talk about and the basketball – what we’re trying to achieve on the floor, what we’re trying to build – that’s what Landry, that’s what [assistant general manager Kyle Korver], that’s what [head coach Quin Snyder], and frankly, that what the players should be talking about. But, if you’re asking me am I’m a fan of Trae Young, he’s extraordinary. ”

Next. Saddiq Bey sounds off on ‘most important’ thing for Hawks. dark

The Hawks have had to push back against many outside narratives in a turbulent season that has them one game above .500 two years after a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals and a blockbuster trade to add Dejounte Murray to the mix this past offseason – a move that is said to be part of the impetus behind Schlenk’s departure.