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Commissioner Silver says Hawks GM Ferry's comments 'do not merit his losing his job'

Scott Cunningham / Getty

NBA commissioner Adam Silver arrived in Barcelona for the FIBA World Cup on Wednesday, and it didn't take long for him to be asked about the current situation within the Atlanta Hawks organization.

As a quick refresher, the situation in Atlanta began when general manager Danny Ferry made racially insensitive comments on a conference call about free agent Luol Deng - comments he has said he was reading from an external report. The comments caused minority owner Michael Gearon Jr. to ask the team's controlling owner, Bruce Levenson, to remove Ferry.

Related: Luol Deng issues statement on Hawks controversy: 'Proud to say I actually have a lot of African in me'

As a result of Ferry's comments, the Hawks launched an internal investigation that turned up a racially insensitive email from Levenson. Levenson self-reported it to the NBA and agreed to sell his share of the franchise. Ferry, meanwhile, was disciplined internally in an undisclosed manner.

For Silver's part, he's leaving Ferry's discipline up to the Hawks and saying he doesn't believe Ferry deserves to lose his job, based on current evidence.

Here's Silver, to USA Today Sports:

The discipline of a team employee is typically determined by the team, and in this case the Hawks hired a prestigious Atlanta law firm to investigate the circumstances of Danny Ferry's clearly inappropriate and unexpected remarks. In my view, those comments, taken alone, do not merit his losing his job.

It's a question of context ... These words, in this context, understanding the full story here, the existence of the scouting report, the fact that he was looking at the scouting report as a reference when he was making these remarks, what I'm saying is - and frankly my opinion - is that this is a team decision in terms of what the appropriate discipline is for their employee. But if I'm being asked my view, I'm saying that, based on what I know about the circumstances, I don't think it's a terminable offense.

After Wednesday's leaked transcripts from the conference call, the "question of context" is a little clearer, though hardly transparent (see below).

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