Danny Ferry interviewed Tuesday with Washington Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis to be the team’s next general manager, according to several people with knowledge of the team’s process.
Ferry, 52, is one of four known candidates to replace Ernie Grunfeld, who was fired April 2.
Ferry, a former high school star at DeMatha and an all-American at Duke, is the son of Bob Ferry, who was the longest-tenured GM in Washington franchise history, running the club for 17 seasons. He joins a list of candidates that includes Tommy Sheppard, the team’s interim GM, along with Houston’s Gersson Rosas and Denver’s Tim Connelly.
Rosas, the Rockets’ executive vice president of basketball operations, is also in Washington for his interview.
Multiple people with knowledge of league personnel moves said they believe Connelly, the Nuggets’ president of basketball operations, is also a candidate. Connelly is still under contract with Denver, which is playing in the Western Conference semifinals, and has yet to schedule an interview.
The Wizards are not the only team with interest in the candidates on their list. Sheppard and Rosas interviewed for the New Orleans Pelicans’ GM job. Rosas, who has spent 16 years in Houston, has also been linked to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Rosas, a 40-year-old native of Bogota, Colombia, has made a name for himself as the basketball mind to the analytics side of Houston Rockets President Daryl Morey. The Rockets have been one of the league’s leaders in the trend toward launching more three-pointers. In Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, Houston attempted a league record 28 threes in the first half against the Golden State Warriors.
Aside from Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, the Rockets have the players to thrive in this style. And Rosas, whose background is in scouting and player personnel, has been credited as being a pivotal piece to the team’s success in making franchise-altering trades (for James Harden and Chris Paul) and landing free agents.
For Ferry, the Wizards’ job would be a homecoming. A Bowie, Md., native, Danny’s father, Bob, was the Washington Bullets’ general manager from 1973 to 1990 and guided the franchise to its only NBA championship in 1978.
Ferry also has experience running a franchise. After a stint in the San Antonio Spurs’ front office from 2003 to 2005, Ferry had a successful run as general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2005 to 2010 before stepping down because of disagreements with owner Dan Gilbert. He returned to San Antonio, where he was vice president of basketball operations for two years, before being hired to run the Atlanta Hawks (2012-15), taking the team from the draft lottery to the top of the Eastern Conference. In 2014-15, the Hawks won 60 games and earned the top seed in the East before getting swept in the conference finals by the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, Ferry’s run ended after he came under scrutiny for making racially and culturally insensitive comments.
Ferry was heard on a recorded conference call describing potential free agent target Luol Deng, who was born in what is now South Sudan, as having “a little African in him.” Ferry maintained that he was reading the Deng comments from a scouting report that had been prepared by a third party. A law firm investigated the incident and confirmed Ferry’s claim. However, Ferry stepped down from the Hawks in June 2015.
Before interviewing with Washington, Ferry served as the Pelicans’ interim general manager since February but removed his name from consideration for the permanent job.
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