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Atlanta — Danny Ferry officially stepped down as general manager of the Hawks on Monday, and said having to watch the team's most successful season from a distance was "bittersweet."

Ferry, 48, spoke publicly for the first time since going on indefinite leave in August following racially inflammatory comments about then-free agent Luol Deng.

"It was hard, but winning makes everything better," Ferry said. "Winning makes everything easier and to see the work that we had been putting in over the few years and the identity of what we were trying to build really take root … this year was obviously bittersweet and definitely sweet because of the success and how the team played."

Hawks CEO Steve Koonin credited Ferry for helping build the team that won 60 games and reached its first Eastern Conference finals.

In a statement announcing Ferry's exit, Koonin added it was time for the move.

Several news reports surfaced last Friday that Ferry and Hawks officials had reached a buyout of the final two years of his contract.

"This season has proved two things," Koonin said. "First, Danny Ferry is a tremendous GM. Danny was the principal architect of the Hawks success in Atlanta. …

"Second, Danny Ferry is not a racist. Danny showed great leadership in stepping aside in the fall so the season could proceed with as few distractions as possible."

Koonin added now that the team has identified new ownership, "the resolution of Danny's contract with existing ownership is appropriate."

Slam dunks

Thaddeus Young informed Nets officials he will become a free agent, and general manager Billy King says they want to keep the forward and center Brook Lopez.

Young bypassed the $10.2 million he would have made next season in the final year of his contract.

Lopez has until the end of this month to let the Nets know if he is picking up his $16.7 million option.

... Charlotte won a bid to host the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend, the Charlotte Observer reported. Charlotte last hosted the All-Star Game in 1991 at the Charlotte Coliseum. That building has since been demolished.

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