Kristaps Porzingis on his role in the playoffs: “At the start it was hard for me to accept my role because I’m not used to having my part reduced like that. I was put in the corner and did my job like a soldier. “
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Interestingly, in the United States, everybody is questioning Luka’s leadership with the Dallas Mavericks. For example, famous ESPN journalist Brian Windhorst mentioned that he’s not sure how many people would be excited to play with Luka. He described him as a ‘maybe difficult person.’ How do you feel about these comments as a dad and as a person who knows Luka very well? Sasa Doncic (Luka’s dad): I don’t know. Maybe this journalist is probably the biggest basketball genius. So please don’t ask me about it (laughs). I’m telling you, what he is doing in the NBA is more than great. I’m talking as a basketball fan. As a father, I’m very proud of him. He’s not afraid of anybody. He has this heart and guts to compare with everybody. What he’s doing at 22 years old in the NBA, as a European player, I think, nobody does this.
“I don’t know how many people are going to be excited to play with Luka,” Windhorst said during an interview with Shan and RJ on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM] Monday. “I think Luka is, maybe, a difficult person. He’s a great player, but when you watch the Mavericks play, he’s barking at the coach, he’s barking at his teammates, he’s barking at the officials. He’s always barking about something. He can really be an irritable guy.
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).
Mike Fisher: Remember when Porzingis broke the rules and snuck off to an L.A. strip club during the playoffs? The Mavs pretended to laugh it off; privately, Doncic wasn’t chuckling.
Rick Carlisle endorsed Jason Kidd for the head coaching job of the Dallas Mavericks upon his hiring with the Indiana Pacers, which indirectly was an omission for his assistant coach Jamahl Mosley. “Let me be delicate in my wording here,” said Tim MacMahon on The Hoop Collective Podcast. “I think Rick understood the perception of how that might impact who he didn’t endorse.” “Right, that’s what I was getting at,” replied Tim Bontemps.
“Screw it, I’m going to stop being delicate. I think it got to a point where Rick perceived Jamahl Mosley’s close relationship with Luka Doncic as a threat to him. I don’t think those guys will necessarily send each other Christmas cards. And look, who’s right? Who’s wrong? Whatever. I do know this: players I’ve talked to… Luka’s not the only guy on that team who is extremely close to Jamahl Mosley. [He’s] developed great relationships with players throughout his career.”
Jason Terry: Right now he’s busy in Slovenia, getting ready for the Olympics. And so I know, and trust, you know, Cuban, and the powers that be to do the right things to put the necessary pieces around him. And you know, he loves the city of Dallas. I mean, that’s the city, that gave him his start. And when you watch him play, he wears the city on his chest and on his back. He’s all in when it comes to Dallas. So I don’t buy into the rumors. And I haven’t seen anything or heard anything of it from his end.
While Carlisle adapted to Doncic, they still never got along. Even outward, public examples of Doncic showing him disrespect on the court are too many to list. Doncic deserves his own share of blame for this too, of course.
But Carlisle was often difficult to deal with: lashing out verbally at non-star players he disliked or having angry outbursts directed at inanimate objects behind closed doors. All humans exist in shades of gray, and that side of Carlisle doesn’t invalidate touching stories that have also been shared about him in the past days or moments where he went out of his way to connect with a beat writer for his team. But in every corner of the Mavericks organization, there’s a shared sense of relief they no longer have to deal with his worst moments.
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.
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.
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August 2, 2021 | 7:49 am EDT Update
There is a strong possibility that Howard returns for a third go-around with the Lakers. Howard won a title with the Lakers in 2020, but he bolted to the 76ers last season. Now, there appears to be interest on both sides to have Howard back for his physical and defensive play. Howard, 35, averaged 7.0 points and 8.4 rebounds in 17.3 minutes last season in Philadelphia, his 17th in the NBA.
Rob Schaefer: Zach LaVine on what he’s conveyed to Bulls about a potential extension. If Bulls decide to take route to cap space, pursuing upgrades through free agency or renegotiating + extending LaVine’s current contract are two options on table.
Barry Jackson: ESPN reports tonight that New Orleans and Dallas – two Lowry suitors – have begun to look elsewhere for point guards. The Dragic/Achiuwa package should get this done for Lowry barring any late issues; Achiuwa hasn’t yet been informed because talks can’t begin until 6 p.m. Monday.
Donatas Urbonas: Ignas Brazdeikis will play for the Orlando Magic in the NBA Summer League, per sources. Brazdeikis averaged 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2 assists in 8 NBA games with Orlando last season.
Rob Schaefer: Zach LaVine on keeping up with Bulls’ free agency from Tokyo: “I should have a good idea what’s going on. I take that very serious, keep up to date with what’s going on back home, but obviously still get my rest cause we got a game tomorrow. One way or another I’ll find out.”
August 2, 2021 | 1:19 am EDT Update
“It looks like [Kawhi] is expected to re-sign with the Clippers, but sources informed me that he will listen to other teams.” @ChrisBHaynes on Kawhi Leonard’s free agency