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Atlanta GM Danny Ferry takes leave

Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry took a "leave of absence" on Friday, to escape the saga engulfing him.

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Audio of Ferry speaking about Luol Deng on June 6 was made public, with the 47-year-old reportedly reading from a scouting report when he uttered the words: "He's a good guy on the cover but he's an African."

With investigations continuing into whether Ferry was paraphrasing or quoting the report ongoing, the Hawks - and Ferry - decided he needed to step out of the limelight.

"This afternoon, Danny Ferry requested, and I have approved, taking an indefinite leave of absence, effective immediately," Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said.

"This has been an incredibly difficult time for him and his family and it is my hope that this time away from the Hawks organisation allows him the privacy he needs to listen to the community, to learn about his mistakes, and to begin the long process of personal healing.

"As a human being, manager and friend, I wish him well as he undergoes this process."

Ferry claimed in a statement the words were not his, but still apologised for his part in "repeating them".

"No words can adequately describe my remorse for the hurt that I have caused many people through the statements I repeated, most importantly Luol Deng," Ferry said.

"Luol is a good man who I have known for many years and he has done a tremendous amount of good for his country and around the world.

"I apologise to Luol and I apologise to all that I have offended. As I have said, while these were not my words, I deeply regret repeating them."

Deng, 29, moved to the Miami Heat as a free agent in the off-season, having played 40 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2013-14 season.

The South Sudan-born forward was drafted by the Chicago Bulls with pick seven in 2004, and spent a decade with the famous outfit.

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