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Hawks owners agree to sell 100 percent of franchise, according to report

Atlanta will have a new ownership group.

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Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks are ready to change hands after all three team ownership groups have reached an agreement to sell, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The team does not have a buyer yet, but will officially go on the market next week. The investment banking firm Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports has been retained to gather and vet prospective buyers.

Former NBA players Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Webber, among others, have both expressed interest in owning the Hawks.

Bruce Levenson, the controlling owner who started the process by self-reporting an email making stereotypes about the fanbase's racial composition, leads a Washington-based group that holds a 50.1 percent stake in the Hawks. An Atlanta-based group made up of Michael Gearon Jr. and Sr., Rutherford Seydel and Beau Turner own 32.3 percent of the franchise, while a New York-based group led by Steven Price owns the remaining 17.6 percent. The agreement reached allows the full 100 percent of the Hawks to be sold, not just Levenson's majority that was previously on the table.

The decision was surely made easier by the lucrative $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer in August and the Bucks selling for $550 million before that in May. Grantland's Zach Lowe reports the franchise could sell for somewhere between those two numbers.

Tim Bontemps of the New York Post doesn't provide a number, but also says Atlanta is likely to sell for a very high figure.

The ownership changes come in light of the email written by Levenson in 2012 that made assumptions about Atlanta's African American fanbase and game operations. When the news came out in September, Levenson said he self-reported himself to the NBA.

General manager Danny Ferry was also involved in a scandal when he reportedly said Luol Deng had some "African" in him. Ferry remains on an indefinite leave of absence from the team.

After a meeting with Adam Silver, Levenson said he would look to sell his share of the Hawks, but it seems the sale can begin in earnest now that all three ownership groups have come together.

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