Danny Ferry speaks at a press conference Monday after being named the Hawks’ new president of basketball operations and GM.
ATLANTA — Danny Ferry is on the clock for his first NBA draft with the Hawks only three days after his introduction as general manager.
Ferry, who scouted 2012 draft prospects in his former role as vice president of basketball operations for the Spurs, on Monday took over the Hawks. He’ll have the final say as the Hawks have the 23rd and 43rd overall picks in Thursday night’s draft.
It has been a hectic week, but Ferry said he has a good feel for the draft after scouting the prospects in his former role as vice president of basketball operations for the Spurs.
“I’ve been out scouting all year,” Ferry said. “I feel like I have a solid handle on the players that are out there.”
Ferry said his focus has changed this week as he now must view the prospects from the Hawks’ perspective.
Atlanta’s new GM will have help from the old GM.
Rick Sund, who was general manager for four years, is remaining in a loosely defined advisory role at least through July.
Sund may offer input. But this is Ferry’s draft.
“Rick and his group, coming in and seeing the job they have done, have done a good job,” Ferry said. “I’ll sit in on the process, I’ll be a part of the process and ultimately be a big part in making the decision.”
Ferry needs to make his first pick a player who can play as a rookie.
The Hawks have only six players under contract and need to find immediate help.
Possible picks include Syracuse center Fab Melo and two Vanderbilt players, small forward Jeff Taylor and shooting guard John Jenkins.
The 7-foot Melo could help the Hawks give Al Horford, who at 6-foot-10 is undersized at center, more minutes at power forward. With Horford and Josh Smith at the forward positions, coach Larry Drew could bring small forward Marvin Williams off the bench, an option which Drew increasingly preferred last season.
The Hawks didn’t have a first-round pick last year. Sund picked center Keith Benson in the second round, but Benson didn’t make the team.
Among other players who may be available at the No. 23 spot are Baylor forward Quincy Miller and another Vanderbilt player, center Festus Ezeli.
Ferry said he likes the six players currently under contract: Horford, Smith, Williams, Joe Johnson, Jeff Teague and backup center Zaza Pachulia.
“I think they have good players here,” Ferry said. “Al is a good player, Josh, Joe, Teague. There may only be six players here but they’re all pretty darn good. It certainly is something to start working with.”
At Monday’s news conference, Ferry said he had not discussed possible personnel decisions with co-owner Bruce Levenson. Smith could be a free agent after the 2012-13 season and could be traded if Ferry determines he would be difficult to re-sign.
The manner in which Ferry views Horford’s future — as a center or power forward — also could heavily influence decisions in the draft and free agency.
Drew said he expects the Hawks to take the top player on their draft chart in the first round instead of drafting for a specific position. The key is finding a player who can contribute immediately.
“That’s an understatement,” Drew said. “We’re going into the summer where we’ll only have six players under contract. So we’ve got some holes we have to fill. We have to analyze what we have and look at the personnel as far as what we’re going to be needing the most help from.
“After the draft is over, we’ll start talking about personnel, about free agents and possible trades.”