Rick Sund, pictured at a press conference on Oct. 30, 2006, was announced the new general manager of the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. ((Kevin P. Casey/Associated Press))

The Atlanta Hawks ended their search for an experienced front office leader with the announcement that Rick Sund has been hired as the team's new general manager.

Sund, 56, brings more than 30 years of NBA front office experience to the position and spent last year working for the Seattle SuperSonics as a consultant. Previously, he served as the Sonics' general manager since 2001 — leading them to the playoffs twice during that span.

He also had stints with the Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons.

"Rick has an enormous amount of experience, and an outstanding reputation around the league," Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. said.

"During this process, as we spoke with basketball people that we respect around the NBA, everyone had glowing things to say about Rick and his work. Our objective was to add an individual who would help us take the momentum we gained last season, and move to the next level. We feel we've done that, and we're thrilled to add someone of Rick's calibre to our franchise."

He will replace Billy Knight, who announced his resignation on May 7 after seven years with the Hawks.

The Hawks posted a record of 37-45 last season, good enough to end a nine-year playoff drought by grabbing the eighth seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference.

Despite their losing record, they gave the top-seeded Boston Celtics all they could handle in the first round, ultimately falling short in seven games.

Sund impressed by effort against Celtics

"I'm very excited and impressed with what the Hawks have currently developed, and I look forward to continuing that process," Sund said, adding he "was impressed with the effort they displayed" by winning three home playoff games against the Celtics.

Sund is expected to begin with the team next week and will face some key decisions in the very near future about a young Hawks roster.

Atlanta doesn't have a pick in the entry draft on June 26 but the team will need to make decisions about restricted free agents Josh Smith and Josh Childress.

The Hawks also need to decide the future of head coach Mike Woodson, whose contract expires on June 30.

With rookie forward Al Horford and two-time all-star guard Joe Johnson also on the roster, Sund believes the pieces are in place to build on last season's breakthrough.

"We have a great nucleus of players, and while we have some work ahead of us, there's tremendous potential and continued growth with the guys on this roster," Sund said.

With files from the Associated Press