Donnie Nelson Rumors
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.”
Eddie Sefko: Prez and GM Donnie Nelson on Mavs needing more weapons: “Getting Rick (Carlisle) ammunition is our No. 1 priority in the offseason. We’ve got a great opportunity in the draft. And free agency, we’ll be extremely active. It was an extremely difficult year for the head coach.”
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.”