As one team source says, “Mark Cuban is the most powe…

More on Luka Doncic Extension?

But a high-level power broker within the league says the Mavericks recognize that there’s urgency to build a contending team around Doncic after losing in the first round in each of the past two seasons. The clock is ticking. Internally, there are concerns the front office’s dysfunction has hurt its ability to do so — and that poor relationships Doncic has with key members of the franchise, including Voulgaris, could impact his current desire to remain in Dallas long-term. The team’s most recent postseason defeat against the LA Clippers served as a direct indictment on the roster constructed around him. Can Mavericks management remedy that in time? Or, as some team sources fear, will they pay the price for the dysfunctional dynamics that exist in some corners of the organization?
It’s not that Doncic’s situation with the team is at a critical inflection point right now. Multiple team sources simply fear that it’s heading that direction. Those concerns mostly center on Cuban and the decisions he makes regarding who he trusts and imbues with power. Sometimes, it’s examples like Voulgaris, a sports gambler with no league experience being given near total control of the team’s roster. Other times, it’s the relationships he doesn’t sever: The Mavericks’ front office has come to be known around the league for its long-existing power structure that, Voulgaris aside, has barely changed.
In early February, during the second quarter of a home game against the Golden State Warriors, Luka Doncic carelessly turned over the ball and received feedback from a Dallas Mavericks employee he didn’t care for: Haralabos Voulgaris, a well-known sports gambler hired by team owner Mark Cuban in 2018. Voulgaris, sitting with an open laptop in his typical courtside seat across from the Mavericks’ bench, motioned downward with his hands, which Doncic specifically interpreted as Voulgaris telling him to calm down, multiple team and league sources tell The Athletic. Doncic snapped back, telling Voulgaris, according to one source’s recollection, “Don’t f------ tell me to calm down.” The same sources say Voulgaris later professed that his motion wasn’t solely directed at Doncic, but regardless of intent, it only worsened an already inflamed relationship between the two.
Multiple league and team sources point to the 2020 draft as a particularly egregious example of Voulgaris’ power, an evening one source described as “embarrassing.” Most members of the scouting department joined the team’s war room remotely through Zoom and were surprised when Voulgaris, attending in person, didn’t consult them for either of the team’s first two selections (Josh Green and Tyrell Terry) despite disagreements they held with at least one of the players he picked. “What did (he) sell to Mark to make him believe (he) can do this?” asks one source with an intimate knowledge of the situation. “Nobody knows.”
Luka Doncic all but announced on Monday that he would sign a five-year contract extension in August. There was no grave concern in Dallas that Doncic wouldn’t sign a deal expected to exceed $200 million, which would be the richest rookie extension in league history, but the public reassurance won’t hurt given the daunting challenges the Mavericks face to put a better team around him.
Storyline: Luka Doncic Extension?
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July 28, 2021 | 1:38 pm EDT Update

Jaxson Hayes arrested

New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes — the #8 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft — was arrested after an alleged violent altercation with police, TMZ Sports has learned … and it apparently got so extreme, the hooper and a cop were taken to a hospital. We’re told law enforcement were called to an LA area home for a domestic disturbance early Wednesday morning … and when cops attempted to check on the parties involved, 21-year-old Hayes tried like hell to keep them from entering the premises.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 1 more rumor
Sources tell us 6’11”, 220-lb. Hayes got combative with cops and a fight broke out … with the ex-Texas Longhorns star getting tased in the middle of the scuffle. The brawl was allegedly so intense, police put out an “officer needs help” radio call. Hayes was taken to a nearby hospital to get treatment for minor injuries … and an officer involved in the fight also sought treatment, although their condition is unknown.
“Number one pick,” he tells me, “that would be a dream come true. I ain’t going to lie. That happens, I’m going to have a breakdown,” he laughs. And, naturally, he has preference in mind. “I want to live in Detroit.” He feels that spot is important to his journey, a reward for his endurance. When I ask him as dinner ends what he wants out of his career, he offers a singular ambition. “I want my respect,” Jalen tells me. “As a person and a basketball player. What comes with this is that people don’t know what you’ve got to sacrifice and go through. Especially when you’re in a small city and basketball takes you down this road and everyone’s still in that small city. It’s personal. A lot of people talk about you on the side. It can get back to your family and everything. And they don’t know what you’ve been through, by yourself, while you’re on that journey.”
Storyline: No. 1 pick
“People question if he’s too big time,” Justin “Juice” Huelskamp, one of Jalen’s best friends and high school teammates, tells me. “He’s just adjusting to his new life. This is regular for him now. Sometimes people get that misunderstood.” Jalen’s noticed this too, of course. “This shit’s crazy,” Jalen tells me. “Where we’re from, it’s like not a lot of n-ggas that have done that.” Recently, Jalen and Juice flew back to Fresno to renovate the courts he grew up playing on. He got Adidas to refurbish “The Cage” in Northwest Fresno at Koligan Park, christening the court with a windmill jam in front of the mayor. Brad Roznovsky, Jalen’s high school coach at San Joaquin, couldn’t believe what he saw. “Man, you’re not even a basketball player anymore,” Roznovsky told him. “You’re a frickin celebrity, bro!”
The G League Ignite is finalizing a deal with USC associate head coach Jason Hart as the program’s new head coach, sources tell ESPN. Hart, a nine-year NBA veteran, takes over an NBA-run program that produced two of the top of the picks in Thursday’s NBA draft — forwards Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga. Hart, 43, replaces Brian Shaw, who is joining the LA Clippers as their top assistant.