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.
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.
Perhaps that’s a natural reaction when Porzingis became subject to trade rumors, ones which made his status clear as a second-tier star next to Doncic. (Talent-wise, that obviously is correct; it still isn’t enjoyable for it to be publicly projected into the universe.) Many team, player and league sources, whenever asked, have consistently told The Athletic there is no unknown “incident” between the two players, no flash point to spark a change in their dynamic.
In an email to The Athletic, Cuban clarified that his “dust-ups” comment referred to “a guy thinks a pass should come his way and it doesn’t (or) coach runs a play for the guy.” He added, “No more dust-up.” In a Spanish-language interview after Cuban’s comments, Porzingis said, “I’ve never had any problems with my teammates off the court, I’ve always gotten along very well with them. I don’t know what Cuban was talking about. I try to be as professional as possible.”
The Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently talked about the relationship between his two young star players in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, insinuating that they may not be as close as it appears on the court. However, Porzingis denied that’s the case and noted that he’s never had any issues with his teammates so far in his career. “I’ve never had any problems with my teammates off the court, I’ve always gotten along very well with them. I don’t know what Cuban was talking about. I try to be as professional as possible, do what I have to do and be a soldier for the team,” Porzingis told MARCA.
July 30, 2021 | 9:44 pm EDT Update
While he won’t be back as one of their two-way players at this point, Devontae Cacok is still returning to the team he won a championship with in 2020, as he will be playing for the Lakers’ summer league team in Las Vegas, a league source told Silver Screen and Roll.
Alex Kennedy: Jānis Timma will play with the Orlando Magic in Summer League, a source told @basketbllnews. Memphis selected him 60th in the 2013 NBA Draft, then Orlando acquired his draft rights in 2015. The 29-year-old has an impressive overseas résumé, playing for Olympiacos, Khimki, etc.
After going undrafted Thursday night, former Kentucky Wildcat Olivier Sarr has signed a deal to play on the NBA Summer League roster with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Darren Wolfson: #Timberwolves had interest. But he shot the lights out in his Houston workout, looked at as better opportunity with the Rockets.
Moses Moody had two of the Warriors’ top players in attendance for one of his pre-draft workouts, and they reportedly were “impressed” with the eventual No. 14 overall pick. “I talked to Steph and Klay, they were both at one of my workouts, so talked to them a little bit afterwards,” Moody told reporters during his introductory press conference on Friday.