Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry has taken an indefinite leave of absence after making racially charged comments about a potential free agent.

The team's CEO, Steve Koonin, made the announcement Friday afternoon.

Koonin has resisted calls that Ferry be fired but says "it is my hope that this time away from the Hawks organization 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. "

The GM made inflammatory comments about Luol Deng in a conference call with Hawks owners in June, as the team was deciding whether to pursue the free agent. Ferry described Deng as someone who "has a little African in him" and could be disruptive in the locker room.