In one of the craziest NBA news days in recent history (Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul out! Scott Brooks and Stan Van Gundy also out, but different!) the Dallas Mavericks managed to jump into the mix.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Mavs and longtime general manager Donnie Nelson decided to part ways on Wednesday afternoon. This comes on the heels of a blockbuster report ($$$) from The Athletic’s Tim Cato and Sam Amick that there is infighting behind closed (and not so closed) doors among Mavs staff and executives.
The Dallas Mavericks didn’t wait until long into their offseason to make changes, beginning with the dismissal of longtime general manager Donnie Nelson.
This report refers to Haralabos Voulgaris, a sports-betting legend-turned-analytics exec with the Mavs, as something of a shadow GM. It also cited infighting and a power struggle between Voulgaris as something that could lead to Nelson getting pushed out entirely. Mavs owner Mark Cuban took to Twitter to refute the report’s claims, but just a couple of days later, Nelson is out and Voulgaris has an expiring contract that the team will need to address.
The Dallas Mavericks are entering a period of their franchise history that could be the most important they’ve ever had. They have an all-world talent in Luka Doncic who expects to sign a max extension in the offseason, and while Luka is going to get his money, it’s essential that the Mavs put the right pieces around him. And also avoid pissing him off in the process.
If indeed Luka Doncic has all-time great potential, it’s something teams don’t often get a shot at. And almost no teams get a second shot once they squander the first opportunity. Mark Cuban and his legions of advisers and head-hunters can’t afford to miss on this position. And given what Cato and Amick’s report had to say about Doncic’s poor relationship with Voulgaris, Cuban probably shouldn’t give him that job either.
Now they have a vacancy in their most important decision-making post. The team will rely on Mike Forde’s Sportsology to do the leg-work in finding their next general manager or president of basketball operations, but this is a decision they can’t get wrong. They need to hire somebody who can work with Doncic and find the kind of talent that functions best with him.
According to Marc Spears on The Jump on Wednesday, they’re already starting from a deficit after firing Nelson. Per Spears:
“Let’s just be real: Donnie is fired. The one guy who’s upset about is Luka Doncic. They are really close”
Making a move like this at such a fraught time with Doncic’s extension yet unsigned is a heck of a gamble from Cuban and one that seems more likely to hurt them than help down the road. Within a 48-hour period, Doncic has been named First Team All-NBA for the second straight year and subsequently lost his friend and mentor in Nelson.
We’ll see how that plays out in the coming weeks for the Dallas Mavericks.