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.
The Chicago Bulls are making changes at the top, having reportedly launched a search to replace long-time executive vice president John Paxton and general manager Gar Forman. And the Dallas Mavericks may have a top-notch candidate. "Michael Finley would be amazing in that role,'' Mavs owner Mark Cuban tells DallasBasketball.com. "Fin has had a huge impact on the Mavs. ... Amazing.''
Brad Townsend: The @NBA this morning announced its Team Sales and Marketing Awards. The @Dallas Mavericks were honored with the Inclusion Leadership Award. pic.twitter.com/hDqEqdB2pp
Marc Stein: The Mavericks have brought back their popular former sixth man Nick Van Exel as a pro personnel scout, league sources say
Dwain Price: #Mavs CEO @cyntmarshall will be profiled on @TheTodayShow on tomorrow morning during the 9 a.m. CST hour with host Craig Melvin. @Dallas Mavericks #Mavs @NBA @MavsCare
Since you’re talking about women, what was your view of the way the league handled the Mavericks situation? (In lieu of a fine from the league, it was decided that owner Mark Cuban would make a $10 million donation to organizations that promote women in leadership roles and combat domestic violence; Cuban also hired a new CEO in Cynthia Marshall who has headed an organizational overhaul). “I think that the NBA did a very thorough investigation. It breaks my heart that anybody had to go through any of that and feel helpless, and not have a place to go or would go to complain and nobody would listen. That hurts. That’s damaging to a person. But I think that the changes that have been put in place are going to benefit the organization. I think what Mark did by stepping up – it’s hard.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN reporting with @Zachlowe_NBA: In another example of the league's changing attitudes on gambling, the Dallas Mavericks are hiring former NBA bettor Bob Voulgaris (@Haralabob) as Director of Quantitative Research and Development.
Mainly, back in 1998 when the Mavs acquired Dirk Nowitzki in a draft day trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, many compared his game to that of Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird. That didn’t go over too well with the Bird followers. So when the Mavs were asked last week who they fondly compare their latest prized rookie – Doncic – to, their lips were unilaterally sealed. Well, sort of. “I’m not going to make the same mistake we did 20 years ago, because (Doncic, like Nowitzki at the time) is a 19-year old kid that is going to have his rear end handed to him,” said Donnie Nelson, the Mavs’ president of basketball operations. “He is going to go against the elite of the elite, not only outside our walls, but within our training camp. Dirk and I had a long talk coming in. That’s why I want to remain guarded in my comments.”
Tim Cato: like last season, Mark Cuban is telling all Mavericks front office employees that they can’t use their phones in the war room tonight. don’t expect any leaks from Dallas.
In fact, Nelson — the Mavs’ president of basketball operations — all but guaranteed it. In this draft, variety truly is the spice of life as the Mavs can go big, small or in-between and still walk away with a can’t-miss prospect. “It’s just exciting,” Nelson said. “We’re looking forward to Thursday. “It’s some really, really good things in there (in the draft). We feel we’re going to get something really good and we can’t wait until Thursday night.”
“We’ve got the number five pick and I believe that we’re going to do a good job of getting somebody good for our franchise and I’m looking forward to it,” Smith said. “I’m fans of a lot of guys in the draft. “There’s a lot of versatility with the big men in the draft. They’re pretty good defensively, they’re good offensively as well. So, like I said I believe we’ll get somebody that’s good for our team.”
Donnie Nelson on if the Mavs would consider trading the pick: "I don't think we'll look to trade out of the draft. We're excited about the young nucleus with Dennis Smith, and obviously Harrison kind of grabbing the torch and providing the leadership role that Dirk has provided over the years. We're excited about getting another young, impact guy we can add to the mix."
The Dallas Mavericks quietly have begun a major front office shakeup. Senior vice president of ticket sales and services George Prokos has been suspended, multiple sources said Friday. Prokos supervised the former employee co-workers referred to as 'Pants DJ' because of the way he rubbed himself as he viewed pornography in the workplace, according to an investigation by The Dallas Morning News. Prokos, who declined to comment when reached Friday, had been with the organization for 18 years and has been a friend of owner Mark Cuban's since before he bought the Mavericks in 2000.
Three former employees with firsthand knowledge of Hyde's behavior told The News that he showed them pornography on his computer or cellphone multiple times, from as far back as the early 2000s until just before he was fired in 2014. In early 2008, Hyde told a former employee whom he had worked with for more than a decade that Cuban had warned Hyde he'd be fired if he continued to possess erotic photos on his office computer. However, two former male employees said Hyde continued to show them photos and videos of topless or naked women on his cellphone while at work for years after Cuban's warning.
In addition, a source said Floyd Jahner, who has served as chief operating officer since 2015 when Terdema Ussery left the franchise, has been told his position is being eliminated. Jahner has been with the Mavericks since 2001. It is not known if Jahner would be reassigned or terminated.
They have worked so close together over the years that Donnie Nelson has all the confidence in the world that Michael Finley is going to bring home the top prize for the Dallas Mavericks when the NBA holds its annual Draft Lottery on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. CT from the Palmer House Hilton hotel in Chicago. Nelson is the president of basketball operations for the Mavs, and he has been grooming Finley – the Mavs’ vice-president of basketball operations – to one day take his place. For now, though, since Finley will be representing the Mavs at the Draft Lottery, Nelson will be at home cheering on his protégé to win the league’s annual extravagant ping-pong event for the first time in franchise history.
“And (Finley is) going to bring his mom, Bertha,” Nelson said. “And they’re going to bring every good luck charm known to man, and we are going to do this. “Hopefully his luck is a lot better than mine. At least I didn’t move backwards. I held serve.”
Fast-forward some 23 years later, Nelson and Finley are again working side-by-side. But those memories from their days with the Suns never fade. “I just can’t say enough about Michael Finley and (how I had) just the complete joy to not only be able to shag balls for him when he and I were in Phoenix together, but to be part of developing him as a young player,” Nelson said. “But to see him come into his own as an executive, it’s just incredible.”
The international squad Nowitzki would join — which also featured future N.B.A. players Luis Scola (Argentina), Darius Songaila (Lithuania) and Dan Gadzuric (Holland) — was already practicing in Dallas by the time he arrived. [....] What the two Germans didn’t realize going into their adventure is that the bulk of the international team’s practices were scheduled to take place in the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center, where the Mavericks practiced in the days before they had their own practice facility. They also didn’t know that a key member of the Mavericks’ brain trust — Donnie Nelson — was scheduled to serve as an assistant coach with Nike’s international invitees that week. Such an arrangement, of course, wouldn’t even be allowed in the modern N.B.A. But the league’s rules on scouting matters weren’t as restrictive 20 years ago, enabling Nelson to have a hands-on role throughout the early years of the Hoop Summit, starting when he was still working for the Phoenix Suns. As a result, Dallas was able to start building a relationship with Geschwindner — and thus Nowitzki — before the wunderkind even took the floor in San Antonio.
It was left to Donnie Nelson to remind his dad that the Mavericks had committed to drafting Nowitzki. All these years later, for his part, Nowitzki remains convinced that sneaking away to Texas in the spring of “98 was the crucial catalyst for it all. “At first I actually told Holger that I didn’t want to go [to the NBA the season after being drafted],” Nowitzki said. “I was not happy with the idea of leaving my team. But if I didn’t play in that game, I’m not sure what my path to the N.B.A. would have been. Maybe I would have played in Spain or Italy first. Maybe I would have gone to college first. All the options were still on the table back then.” In a phone interview last week, Geschwindner said from Germany: “It was a pretty big gamble and we got really beaten up for that — I was ‘misleading’ a youngster and he was ‘selfish.’ Right now it’s easy to talk about, but back then our butts were on fire.”
Melissa Weishaupt: I am using my name because I am convinced that Cuban still doesn’t recognize the culture he’s helped create or the plight of the women who still work for him. From where I sit, Mark’s response was to rush in like some white knight in a T-shirt and jeans and yell, Don’t worry, ladies of the Mavs, I will help you with paid counseling and a hotline you can call! Now you want to help? We are not fragile flowers. We don’t long for counseling. (As for that hotline: I’ve spoken with a dozen current and former team employees; we have no idea what this is or how to find it.) We want equitable pay. We need to be treated with respect. When deserved, we ought to be given the same promotions as our male counterparts.
Melissa Weishaupt: I’m using my name because I know that the human resources department is not always a safe haven. At the Mavericks—and I’m sure elsewhere—HR was there to protect management, not employees. Many workers, especially middle-class and minority workers do not have a voice or an advocate at their jobs. They should chronicle what happens around them, find a support group outside of work. But they should be cautious in dealing with HR. Yes, I was harassed while I worked for the Mavericks. But I am using my name now because I will never say that I am a victim. I am tougher. I am wiser. I am my own advocate.
As for the Greek Freak: Who made final call to pass him up, and why? "It was me," Cuban said. "Donnie [Nelson] was like, 'OK, I'm putting my you-know-whats on the table.' He was doing the Sam Cassell, Nick Van Exel dance. ... It's all in. And I'm like, 'Donnie, we have this plan.' Because even as good as the Greek Freak has turned out to be, he was still three years away, and we wanted to try to get somebody who could help get us to the top right there and then. Didn't turn out that way, it is what it is, that happens."
"Our guys were like, 'We should take the Greek Freak,'" Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said recently on Sirius XM NBA Radio, recalling the 2013 draft. "All we had was two tapes, and someone who would go to see him, but we were trying to get Dwight [Howard] -- that was the Dwight year, too. And, OK, we're trying, we have a plan, we're gonna stick to it. We thought we had a good shot. Didn't turn out that way."
Making an appearance on the ESPN telecast of the Mavs' Las Vegas Summer League game against Phoenix on Sunday, Cuban said things would different if his team — coming off its first losing season since he took over in 2000 — were in the Eastern Conference. "We're rebuilding, there's no question about it," said Cuban, who made headlines in May when he admitted the Mavericks tanked after being eliminated from playoff contention. "If we were in the East, we would not be rebuilding. We'd be handling things completely different."
Eddie Sefko: Mark Cuban on who has final call in draft: "Donnie (Nelson). Always. The only time I get involved is money and the money is already set.”
Earl K. Sneed: Dirk Nowitzki says he hasn't had any discussion with the @Dallas Mavericks front office about Year 2 of his current deal. Mavs have a team option. pic.twitter.com/35IiFRbgXm
But with the Mavs eager to retool this summer in order to build a championship contender, Nowitzki says he’s ready to work with team owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson to help with the reconstruction of the roster. “You know, if you go on with a team like I have for so long, if that’s what it takes, I guess that’s what it takes. I did that decision last summer when I decided to sign on,” Nowitzki explained after completing the first season of a reported two-year deal worth $50 million. “I obviously knew there was a possibility (of rebuilding), and at the end of the day I just can’t imagine myself in a different uniform, so that’s why I made that decision. Whatever comes, if we’re rebuilding, then I’m the face of that. If we’re (competing) for a championship, then I’m here for that."
Nowitzki: "I’ve just identified myself with the organization so long, with the fan base here and with the city that, you know, no matter what the team or the franchise is going through, I’m right there to push it through. That’s why I signed on for two more years last year, and we’ll just wait and see what team we have next year. But I’m here, obviously, to help in any way I can and whatever situation we’re going to be in next year.”
“Unfortunately, since there’s no playoffs, we’ve got plenty of time now,” Nowitzki candidly said. “I’ll be around for a while, and I’m sure we’ll meet with Mark and with Donnie. You know, [Mavs coach Rick Carlisle] will be here and even [leading scorer Harrison Barnes], and we’ll just see how we can help and how we can make this better. Maybe I’ll be in the draft room this year, if that’s what it takes. … I think we’ve got plenty of time over the next few weeks to set a plan, execute the plan on draft day hopefully and maybe in free agency, and we’ll go from there.”
Dwain Price: "And I don't care what the reaction is. Everyone in the organization has been very positive." -- Mark Cuban on the addition of Tony Romo
From Cuban’s perspective, having a top-notch coach is just as critical to success as finding a top-notch player. And when it comes to Carlisle, Cuban believes he’s one of the top three in the business. “I’ve said a million times, hiring a coach is the hardest job in professional sports,” Cuban said. “And we got lucky; we’ve got a good one.” Carlisle is the franchise’s winningest coach with 411 victories and ranks 19th on the NBA’s all-time list with 692 wins. He needs just five more victories to pass Red Holzman for 18th place on that illustrious list, and just eight more to become the 18th coach with at least 700.
"My agent said it's probably not going to happen, but I'm not the right guy to ask. The only thing I can tell you is I'm not banging on [Mark] Cuban's door or Donnie's [Nelson] door asking for a trade, contrary to what was [written] last month."
Tim MacMahon: Mark Cuban is the general manager of the Dallas Mavericks. Let's not get that twisted at all. Donnie Nelson does a lot of the contract negotiations, does a lot of the trade talks, but he does not make any of the decisions. Mark Cuban makes every single basketball decision. Mark Cuban makes decisions a lot of times where Donnie and Rick Carlisle have great input and sometimes makes decisions that go in the face of their advice.
Dirk Nowitzki on his future:: “My goal is to fulfil my contract. In the summer I signed for two more years. But I also have to check on my health. No one knows where I will go later, but I think that I’ll always have a home here in Dallas. I have been here for 20 years now, my wife for ten. If I want to, I would get a job at the Mavericks so I think we might stay here after the end of my career.”
July 31, 2021 | 3:47 pm EDT Update
Brandon Rahbar: Three time NBA champ and current Australian national team assistant coach Luc Longley on Josh Giddey: “I think his court vision and his spatial awareness and his understanding of the game is on the same level as LaMelo Ball. I’d be really surprised if he doesn’t kick some ass.”
Marc Stein: From the college ranks: Sources say Rasheed Wallace has emerged as a prime candidate to join Penny Hardaway’s Memphis staff as an assistant coach. Penny has already hired Larry Brown, the only coach to win NCAA and NBA titles, as an assistant.
July 31, 2021 | 2:42 pm EDT Update
Andrew Lopez: The Pelicans have extended the qualifying offer to both Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart making them restricted free agents, sources tell ESPN.