What have you learned about organizational structure in the past two decades? Mark Cuban: There’s business organizational structure and there’s players. It’s a player-driven league. You have to adapt to the players. What does that adaptation look like? Mark Cuban: Nico and J-Kidd. They get to come in with a fresh start. The players are just different. When I first came here, there was a playbook. Del Harris would hand you a playbook. There are no kids today reading anything. I don’t care what it is. But if you put it in a video? We are talking about putting plays in an app where you just scroll like a TikTok video. It’s no different than my 12-year-old, my 15-year-old and my 18-year-old. If I want to know what news is happening, I ask what happened on TikTok because that’s how you get them. Why are the kids coming into the NBA any different than our kids? It’s the exact same thing.
“I didn’t have a working relationship with Donnie Nelson,” Voulgaris told Pablo Torre on the ESPN Daily podcast. “He’s more of a wheeler-dealer. You shake his hand, make sure your rings are still there.”
Curiously, Voulgaris took credit for a couple of developments on which he should have held his tongue. He said relations between him and Donnie corroded to the point in 2020 that Donnie got up and left the Mavs’ draft room when Bob walked in. Now in charge, as Bob put it, he pressed for a trade to acquire Tyrese Haliburton, who went 12th to Sacramento. No deal transpired, so the Mavs took Josh Green with the 18th pick when conventional wisdom had it that Villanova’s Saddiq Bey was the superior option. A source close to the team confirmed that the analytics department was, indeed, behind the choice of Green. Bob loves a good 3-and-D guy more than a full house.
"I wanted to be a part of something. I wanted to win basketball games," Voulgaris told Pablo Torre on the ESPN Daily podcast. "Changing the organizational structure of the Dallas Mavericks was never something I was interested in unless I was going to be the guy in charge, and I wasn't even sure. I never actually wanted to be the guy in charge until it became clear that the guy in charge didn't want me around. And then I was like, 'Oh, OK, now it's competitive.' ... "But when it became personal, like then the competitive part of me started to kind of kick in. Like, 'Oh, this guy wants me out of here.' It never became obvious that he wanted me out of there. You can just read between the lines a little bit. You can kind of see. Just to be very clear, the first two years or whatever, Donnie was very pleasant around me when I was there. It's just, you hear certain things, you learn certain things, you're told certain things. It was a very gossipy workplace, very gossipy. It was like a sewing circle over there."
"I sent [Cuban] an email where I was like, 'Hey, look, I'm just trying to fit in. I appreciate the opportunity. I don't want to ruffle any feathers,'" Voulgaris said. "And he was very clear, like, 'No, I don't want you to fit in. We're deficient in areas that you're good at. If it's hard, hard conversations have to be had.' Looking back on it, it was kind of like I was this missile to go in there and create the change and unlock some boulders that couldn't be moved before."
According to Voulgaris, he had very little interaction with Nelson despite technically reporting to him in the organizational structure. Voulgaris communicated directly with Cuban and, more frequently, with Carlisle, whose lineup and rotation decisions were heavily influenced by the data provided by Voulgaris. "I didn't have a working relationship with other people in the front office at all, to the point where it was awkward," Voulgaris said. "But that's kind of the M.O. of the way that front office was run -- like, surround yourself with people who are not threats. You don't become an NBA general manager and hold on to your job for that long unless you are very, very good at keeping your job."
Voulgaris noted that the Mavericks had not had a front office employee get hired in a more prominent role by another franchise during Nelson's two-decade tenure as president of basketball operations. Voulgaris attributed that to Nelson not wanting any strong candidates working under him, citing Gersson Rosas' three-month stint as the Mavs' GM in 2013 as an example of Nelson eliminating a potential threat.
Voulgaris also confirmed that Mavs superstar Luka Doncic developed angst toward him. Doncic became irate that Voulgaris left his courtside seat with about 45 seconds remaining in an April home loss to the New York Knicks, which Doncic considered an indication of quitting on the team. Voulgaris, who often retreated to his office late in games to get his computer before meeting with the coaching staff, was unaware of the issue until receiving a call from Carlisle late that night. Voulgaris considered it "nonsense" that could have been easily explained to Doncic and was "offended that nobody stood up for me," particularly an assistant coach who was close with Doncic.
"You have a great relationship with this player. Why are you not telling him that I didn't quit on the team?" Voulgaris said, making a thinly veiled reference to current Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley, who was the Mavs' defensive coordinator. "I just went to my desk to look at something on my computer or got up because I normally get up. There are plenty of other instances of me getting up in the middle of the game. I mean, why does it matter? It's not like I went home and started crying because we lost or threw a temper tantrum. I watched the game from my office on the TV.
Haralabos “Bob” Voulgaris and the organization have parted ways, a league source confirmed. The source stressed that Vougaris, hired in 2018 as director of quantitative research and development, was not fired. His contract expired and was not renewed by new president and general manager Nico Harrison. Thus answers the lingering, most-asked, non-player-related offseason question among fans and media: “What about Bob?” Voulgaris’ departure isn’t surprising, considering the issues regarding him raised shortly after last season in a story in The Athletic, which portrayed former professional gambler Voulgaris as having usurped the power of longtime president and general manager Donnie Nelson.
Haralabos Voulgaris: I haven't commented since the season ended. Just for clarification I asked to be let out of my contract, was denied. Since then I've been waiting for my contract to expire.
Here’s one positive Harrison should provide that I hadn’t fully considered yet. The team’s front office under Donnie Nelson was never very structured; he was a get-it-done-when-it-needed-to-be worker who often called staffers and other league executives at all hours. One former team executive told me how trade talks with the Mavericks were always “weird,” with them proposing an offer one week only for it to change dramatically by the next. At Nike, Harrison worked within and promoted a much more defined structure — one which theoretically shouldn’t allow for a special adviser to gain such increased influence to the point it causes dysfunction internally and throughout the league.
Marc Stein: The Mavericks' Michael Finley is finalizing a new contract with the team that gives him an expanded role in their front office as assistant GM and vice president of player personnel alongside new Dallas GM Nico Harrison, league sources say.
And in front-office news, after it was heavily rumored that Dallas was targeting a CBA-minded lieutenant to join new president of basketball operations Nico Harrison, the Mavericks have hired Brooklyn Nets official Andrew Baker, a respected salary-cap strategist, for a senior role in Dallas' new front office, sources said. Meanwhile, back in Boston, the Celtics continue to be linked to Landry Fields in their search for a general manager under new president Brad Stevens, but two other names to keep an eye on are Nets assistant general manager Jeff Peterson and Pelicans assistant general manager Bryson Graham.
At his introductory news conference Thursday, new Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison acknowledged being pursued by multiple teams in the past for a front-office role but electing to stay with Nike each time until Dallas made a run at him. Two of those teams to express interest, according to league sources: San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Spurs were high on Harrison’s potential as an executive and the Lakers knew him well after Harrison’s extensive work with the late Kobe Bryant.
Brad Townsend: In a follow email, I asked Cuban whether longtime assistant GM Keith Grant is remaining as part of the management structure. Cuban said yes. That's more important than many fans might realize. Grant has been the franchise's capologist for many years.
Marc Stein: The Mavericks officially name Nico Harrison as their new general manager. Harrison, lured by the Mavericks away from Nike, and new coach Jason Kidd are in Dallas today.
The Mavericks have been trying (and failing) to recruit superstars for the last decade, variously whiffing on LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Deron Williams, among others. It takes more than a persuasive sales pitch (or a persuasive personality) to land a superstar, but Harrison improves their chances. “It just gets Cuban in the conversation,” said a longtime team executive. “He couldn’t get in the conversation anymore. They didn’t have a guy that could connect with any of those [players]. And Nico can tell Mark what he needs to do to get guys.”
Kidd could be the perfect mentor to Luka Dončić the Mavericks’ supremely gifted young point guard. And Harrison, according to league sources, already has a strong relationship with Dončić which could matter a lot when tensions arise (they already have) and Dončić needs reassurance (he probably does).
Nate Jones: For Mavs fans that don’t know Nico, he played D1 college ball and has been in a role where he decides which players Nike pursues and elevates. He was Kobe’s guy at Nike. Players love him. He knows basketball talent and is an honest, straightforward pro. Basketball lifer!
Bill Sanders: Mad props to the @Dallas Mavericks and @Mark Cuban for hiring Nico Harrison. Nico is a truly stand up guy with unmatched relationships with players and agents. Respected throughout basketball. Great move. Congrats Nico! #Mavs
Cuban did solicit lists of promising executives around the league, sources say, which were indeed sent to Mike Forde’s consulting firm Sportsology. But league sources always viewed the firm’s involvement as a public relations ploy more than Cuban seriously considering any concession of decision-making influence.
Harrison’s transition will look different from other outside hires recently seen around the league. While Rob Pelinka and Leon Rose are successfully running front offices in Los Angeles and New York, respectively, Harrison will face a steeper learning curve. His years with Nike didn’t provide him constant, direct interactions with front offices like running an agency does, and one league source personally familiar with Harrison downplays his ability as a talent evaluator. But that might not even be a front office responsibility with which Harrison is tasked. He certainly has skills that will immediately translate to Dallas, even if it takes time to fully grasp every element of his new career.
Marc Stein: The Mavericks began their front-office search with internal support for Jason Kidd as coach already strong, league sources said. Chasing Nike's Nico Harrison only added to that given the Harrison/Kidd relationship. As the week wore on, Dallas pursued them as "simultaneous" hires.
Brad Townsend: There won't be an official announcement of the Jason Kidd and Nico Harrison deals today and probably not until Monday, I'm told. Don't think there's anything to be concerned about, since Mark Cuban responded to my question with a quote about how excited he is. But it's unusual.
Marc Stein: The Mavericks have completed their deal with Nike's Nico Harrison for Harrison to run the team's basketball operations ... with Jason Kidd having also agreed to a deal to be the Mavericks' new coach, league sources say. They are expected to arrive in Dallas next week.
Shams Charania: The Dallas Mavericks have agreements to hire Hall of Famer Jason Kidd as their new head coach and longtime Nike executive Nico Harrison in a lead basketball operations role, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium .
Shams Charania: Nico Harrison will serve as the Mavs‘ new General Manager and run basketball operations, sources said.
David Aldridge: Haven’t met anyone-player, coach, etc.-who doesn’t like Nico Harrison. He’ll be able to talk with anyone in the room. Obviously strong relationships with a lot of stars and important people in the game from his Nike gig. Definitely worth outside-the-box thinking from Dallas.
Tim MacMahon: Sources: Mavs have offered Nike executive Nico Harrison a front office leadership position. Dallas wants him to work in tandem with Michael Finley. Harrison and Finley are both close with Jason Kidd, who is expected to be the Mavs' next head coach.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Mavericks are progressing on deals with Nike’s Niko Harrison to lead basketball operations and Jason Kidd to become head coach, sources tell @Tim MacMahon and me.
Marc Stein: The Mavericks are negotiating with the respected Nike executive Nico Harrison about taking over as the team's president of basketball operations, league sources say, with the hope of hiring Harrison alongside Jason Kidd as their next coach.
Marc Stein: Nico Harrison has strong relationships with numerous players around the league through his longtime Nike work and the Mavericks, according to one league source, today began contract negotiations with what the team deemed its top targets to replace Donnie Nelson and Rick Carlisle.
Tim MacMahon: Sources: Mavs have had discussions with longtime Nike executive Nico Harrison about joining the Dallas front office. Harrison has strong relationships with players throughout the NBA -- including Luka Doncic -- and has been pursued for front office jobs by other teams.
Nick De Paula: Harrison is one of the most respected execs in the footwear industry, and was Kobe Bryant’s longtime sports marketing manager during his career. Nico was also instrumental in Luka’s shift from Nike to Jordan in Fall 2019.
Tim MacMahon: Source: Mavs vice president of basketball operations Michael Finley is expected to remain with the franchise. I am not clear yet on whether Finley will be promoted or remain in his role. Mark Cuban is also close to adding a new executive to the Dallas front office.
Tim MacMahon: The Mavericks are progressing in talks to make Jason Kidd the franchise’s new head coach, sources told @Adrian Wojnarowski and me. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is also close to hiring a new head of basketball operations, who has signed off on the Kidd candidacy.
Marc Stein: The Mavericks have opened contract negotiations with Jason Kidd to be their next coach, league sources say, with support from their leading (but not yet identified) top candidate for head of basketball operations.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Dallas Mavericks are closing in on the hiring a new GM and Jason Kidd has emerged as a strong frontrunner to be hired as head coach, sources tell @Tim MacMahon and me.
Tim MacMahon: Mark Cuban and the soon-to-be hired GM have had in-depth discussions about the coaching candidates, sources said. Jason Kidd has had support of Dirk Nowitzki and others advising Cuban.
Jason Terry: “I’m a huge Donnie Nelson Jr. Fan. He was here in Dallas in 2004. When I was here, he was as an assistant coach under Donnie senior. He gave me my biggest contract in my career. And he’s a friend. Not only was he a business partner, but he was a friend. And I hate to see him leave. But I mean, he’ll go down as one of the greatest GMs the Mavericks have ever had. He did great things, obviously, bringing Dirk, bringing Luka. I mean, he’s bar none, he’s, he’s a top exec in all of basketball. And then seeing Carlisle go I mean, hey, that’s my NBA championship coach. I mean, he’s taught me so much about the game, the X’s and O’s of the game. He was a mad scientist when it came to matchups and putting players in position to succeed. So he had a great run. I wouldn’t put it past anyone to see coach Carlisle in the near future on another bench in the NBA. He’s that valuable to our league and he’s one of the good ones.
Jason Terry: So you know, the Dallas Mavericks franchise, you know, Cuban, he’s ultra-competitive. He’ll make sure he puts the right people in place, would love to see Michael Finley in that GM seat, he’s a good friend of mine. Obviously, Dirk is back involved now. So they’ll be in good hands they’re under good leadership. And you know, the Mavs got a great young star in Luka. They continue to build around him and we’ll see them making deep runs in the playoffs as well.”
The Mavericks are not pursuing established executives like Toronto’s Masai Ujiri or Danny Ainge, the former Boston president of basketball operations, to replace Nelson, according to a person with knowledge of the team’s intentions. Those executives would surely want more autonomy that Cuban is willing to cede. As I reported last week, Dallas is strongly considering elevating one of Nowitzki’s favorite former teammates — Michael Finley — to be the team’s head of basketball operations and would add to the group with an external hire even if Finley gets the job. Cuban needs to surround himself with as much versatility and experience as the Mavericks can muster, since he will always be the organization’s lead shot-caller and prefers to render the final say after consulting top aides.
The Mavericks are not pursuing established executives like Toronto’s Masai Ujiri or Danny Ainge, the former Boston president of basketball operations, to replace Nelson, according to a person with knowledge of the team’s intentions. Those executives would surely want more autonomy that Cuban is willing to cede.
Roughly an hour later Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki officially returned to the franchise fold, as an advisor in the search for a new general manager and coach. Owner Mark Cuban told The News that Nowitzki will “be involved in the entire process. “His insights and input are of course invaluable,” Cuban said. “And I’m excited that he is involved.” In case there was any doubt about the order of the search, Cuban made it crystal clear. “First GM, then coach.”
Brad Townsend: . @Mark Cuban on @Dirk Nowitzki's advisor role and his reaction to having him officially back in the Mavs' fold: "Dirk is going to be involved in the entire process of our finding a GM and coach. His insights and input are of course invaluable and I'm excited that he is involved."
Tim MacMahon: Sources: Former Mavs PG Jason Kidd was briefly discussed as a coaching candidate during this meeting. Mark Cuban made it clear that the first priority is the search for a new GM, who will then lead the coaching search.
Brad Townsend: Couple of hours before the Dirk announcement I was told by someone high up in the Mavericks' remaining food chain that "we are in a much better place." I'm sure Nowitzki's return was behind part of the optimism, but it had to be more than that.
Marc J. Spears: The Mavericks say Dirk Nowitzki will serve as a special advisor to the franchise. Nowitzki will assist with the hiring of both a general manager and head coach as well as consult on other front office decisions.
Marc Stein: Former Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki tells @NYTSports that he is rejoining the organization as special advisor. Nowitzki's first assignment at the request of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: Assisting the team in its search for a new head of basketball operations and then coach.
Jonathan Wasserman: Was told Mavs' decision to take Josh Green over Saddiq Bey frustrated number of key execs/scouts. Some wanted Bey. Analytics said Green and won. Bey went one pick later and was just named to First Team All-Rookie.
Ben Rogers: Mavs owner @Mark Cuban just told me they will stick to their search process and hire their next GM first.
Despite Doncic’s previously reported dislike for Voulgaris, sources close to Doncic insisted Wednesday he still intends to sign the supermax extension before next season, worth more than $200 million over five years following the final season of his rookie contract.
Nelson had wanted Voulgaris to stay in his proverbial lane, to avoid overstepping the bounds of his role and focus on being a trusted adviser to Cuban whose analytics-based views would always be taken into account. Dallas would have preferred to project stability ahead of a crucial summer in which Doncic was eligible for a supermax contract extension he indicated a desire to sign. Instead, within the front office, there was turmoil and dysfunction.
While the organization said in its release that Nelson and the Mavericks had “mutually agreed to part ways,” a source close to the situation said Nelson was fired on Sunday. He had spent 24 years working for the organization.
Voulgaris’ contract expires this summer, and his continued employment with the team remains uncertain. When asked about the matter Wednesday evening, Cuban told The Athletic he “won’t talk about individual deals. Never do.” But it’s expected any continued role would be the same he has held.
Voulgaris never angled to usurp Nelson as the formal leader atop the front office’s organizational chart, team sources say, a role involving constant conversations with other executives around the league as the main figure for transactions which doesn’t fit his analytical strengths. But as his influence grew within the organization, perceptions around the league began to shift toward him gaining authority. From Nelson’s perspective, lines were clearly crossed.
As one rival team executive shared Wednesday, there were times when talking to the Mavericks about trade possibilities meant inevitable confusion. Nelson would paint one picture, so to speak, discussing the possible pieces and players involved in an attempt to get a deal done. But Voulgaris, who this rival executive said had talked to his team simultaneously about a particular deal, would tell a different story. And because Voulgaris was widely known to have a direct line to Cuban, this dynamic was seen by Nelson as damaging to his credibility. When asked over the phone about this assertion on Wednesday, Cuban refuted the idea that Voulgaris had negatively impacted the process.
“At multiple levels of the front office, multiple people have ongoing conversations,” Cuban said. “Scouts, assistant general managers, anybody and everybody. Player development people, everybody (has) conversations with people in other organizations to get information and find out what they’re up to, just like they have conversations with Donnie. “We have people top to bottom with other teams and other teams have conversations with us. We take input and that goes into all of the final decision-making. But that’s no different than (any other) team. … And no one has any more influence because it comes down to us agreeing on it. Or me agreeing on it. That’s just how it works. And only Donnie initiated trades.”
While Cuban may view such speculative calls as being business as usual, multiple team sources still voiced concern about Voulgaris’ perceived influence around the league contributing to the team’s dysfunction. The overarching concern of these sources is how it might impact the team’s ability to maintain Doncic’s desire to remain here long-term. Doncic told reporters at a Slovenian national team press conference held Thursday that it was difficult to hear about Nelson’s departure, who sources confirm he held a good, long-standing relationship with since meeting him as a teenager. “But I’m not the one making decisions,” he said.
Marc Stein: Luka Doncic, from Slovenia with his national team, on Donnie Nelson's Mavericks exit: "It was kind of tough to me. I really like Donnie. I know him since I was a kid and he was the one that drafted me. It was tough for me seeing that, but I'm not the one making decisions there."
Marc Stein: Former Mavericks All-Star Michael Finley, already a member of the team's brain trust as vice president of basketball operations, has immediately emerged as a candidate in the club's search for a new head of basketball operations, @NYTSports has learned.
Brad Townsend: I'm told that reports of Luka Doncic being upset about Donnie Nelson's parting with the Mavericks aren't based on conversations anyone's had with Doncic because he hasn't shared such feelings. Doncic and Nelson are personally close and have been since before Dallas drafted him, but that's not the same as saying Doncic is upset with the franchise regarding today's news.
Brad Townsend: Doncic is in fact expected to speak about Nelson's departure tomorrow during an availability with reporters in Slovenia as he and Team Slovenia prepare for an Olympic qualifying tournament. But to say Doncic is upset with the Mavericks right now is not accurate.
Ruben Palacios: Marc J Spears on The Jump: - Luka is upset at Donnie Nelson firing - Luka will comment about the firing tomorrow - There are not currently ongoing talks on his extension. That seems like a big deal.
Marc Stein: The Mavericks have hired a search firm and have opened the search for a new head of basketball operations, league sources say.
Tim MacMahon: The decision for Donnie Nelson to leave the Mavericks was made Sunday, sources told ESPN.
Tim MacMahon: Source confirms that longtime president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson is parting ways with the Mavs, as reported by The Athletic. Nelson had lost power since the hiring of Bob Voulgaris, creating internal tension.
Shams Charania: Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson and the franchise have decided to part ways, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium .
Jordan Schultz: Asked Mark Cuban about the “bullshit” Luka report. His response, via text: “I listen to everyone. And I certainly listen to Luka. The whole idea that there is a shadow GM is ridiculous.”
Taylor Rooks: Just spoke to Mark Cuban about the recent reports: “I pay close attention to what Luka says, what the front office, analytics group and our scouts say. What Rick says. The idea that there is a shadow GM is laughable. The idea that anyone but Rick sets rotations is insulting”
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.
As one team source says, “Mark Cuban is the most powerful person in the organization, but whoever he’s listening to is second.” Cuban was won over by Voulgaris’ vision: an analytics-driven spread pick-and-roll offense with Doncic as the focal point which he has tried implementing in the past seasons.
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.”
Tony Ronzone, the Mavericks’ director of player personnel who last summer was the subject of a sexual assault accusation published in Sports Illustrated, was dismissed by the franchise after it learned new information pertaining to the alleged incident, sources confirmed to The Dallas Morning News. What isn’t clear is exactly when Ronzone was dismissed. Reached by email on Monday afternoon, team owner Mark Cuban declined to comment. Through a team spokesperson, CEO Cynthia Marshall also declined to comment.
Ronzone no longer is listed in the Mavericks’ media guide. He also recently removed any mention of the Mavericks from his Twitter bio, which now reads: “USA Basketball Gold Medal/2010 World Championship Gold Medal/2004 Detroit Pistons NBA champs/twins Cade-Austin ASU and beautiful wife Tricia.” He has not responded to a message from The News seeking comment for this story.
Tim MacMahon: Sources: Mavericks vice president of basketball operations Michael Finley interviewed for the Bulls' general manager job. Finley, a Chicago native who was twice an All-Star in his 15-year career, has spent the last seven seasons in the Dallas front office.
August 11, 2022 | 7:20 pm EDT Update
There is a growing belief among rival teams that Durant knew when he issued that me-or-them ultimatum that Tsai had no intention of yielding to the request and firing Marks and Nash. One resultant theory that the Durant/Tsai meeting spawned is the idea KD has begun trying to manufacture as much behind-the-scenes discord as he can in hopes that it will lead the Nets to lower their asking price and trade him out of exasperation.
Appearing on The Scoop podcast with Darren Wolfson of SKOR North and 5 Eyewitness News, Glen Taylor said new Wolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly had his eye on multiple impact trade targets, but Gobert was his “number one option.” The input of head coach Chris Finch, who expressed confidence in his ability to use Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, was also a key factor in Minnesota’s decision to pull the trigger on the blockbuster deal. “What I did when Tim and Chris talked to me about this trade is to ask (Finch) is there a system that he knows how to utilize these players,” Taylor said. “And he was very confident that he did understand how to utilize their skill sets, being two big guys. We talked about a lot, so he convinced me that this is something that is going to take us to a winning situation, and gave us the go-ahead to make the trade.”
Asked if he’d like to see D’Angelo Russell sign an extension before the season begins, Taylor said it might benefit both sides to hold off and see how the 2022/23 season goes. “(Finch) believes that with the new lineup, and with Russell in that lineup, that he’ll have a much better year just because of the way we’re going to play,” Taylor said. “He says he thinks there’s a big upside for Russell with this group of (players). That’s to his advantage and to our advantage if it works out.”
The plan remains for Taylor to hand over control of the franchise to incoming owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez in a little over a year. The Wolves’ longtime owner said he’s not having any regrets about giving up control of the team as it becomes a more legitimate contender. “No, I don’t have any second thoughts. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Taylor said. “We’ve left some options open that I’ll continue to be involved if I want to be involved, and that suits me just fine.”
“My favorite NBA player to watch besides Steph is Luka,” Green said on the latest edition of his eponymous podcast. “Luka different. I mean, the way he sees the floor, scores the basketball, gets to his spot, his pace. It’s Luka for sure.”
August 11, 2022 | 5:46 pm EDT Update
The Cleveland Cavaliers will be gathering in Los Angeles for voluntary, player-led pre-training camp workouts next week, sources tell cleveland.com. All-Star point guard Darius Garland and Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Mobley — two guys who spend time on the West Coast during the offseason — are helping organize the workouts.