NBA Rumor: Dallas Mavericks Turmoil?

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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.

“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 on Luka Doncic: 'I don’t buy into the rumors'

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

Kristaps Porzingis: I've never had problems with teammates

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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