Yesterday wound up being a big turning point in what is looking like a tumultuous offseason for the Dallas Mavericks. The team parted ways with longtime general manager Donnie Nelson, much to the chagrin of superstar guard Luka Doncic.
The decision came after reports that another member of the front office, Haralabos Voulgaris, had accumulated significant influence in the front office, causing internal strife. He was also removed from his post by owner Mark Cuban, per reports. Now, Cuban has to rebuild the front office while also trying to lock up a huge deal to keep Doncic in Dallas for the foreseeable future.
Doncic is in line for a five-year, $200 million contract from the team, which looked like a foregone conclusion just weeks ago. On Wednesday, ESPN’s Marc J. Spears reported that Doncic is upset about Nelson’s ouster, and it has put a halt on the talks of that mega-deal for the Slovenian superstar.
Today, Doncic, who is back in his home country working out with the national team in preparation for the Summer Olympics, spoke about Nelson’s ouster. He confirmed that it was tough news for him to take.
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 (@TheSteinLine) June 17, 2021
His comments today are probably not the explosive ones that some thought may come. Others, including Dallas Morning News writer Brad Townsend, say that the idea of a rift between Luka and the Mavs is overblown.
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.
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) June 16, 2021
Townsend also says that Luka Doncic was not aware that Nelson was going to be fired, which is pretty interesting given his place as the clear franchise player, and perhaps the most important person with the team in any capacity.
My understanding is that Doncic was not aware of Nelson's departure until yesterday. He basically found out when we did, perhaps a little before, but not until yesterday.
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) June 17, 2021
Ultimately, we’ll find out just how much this impacted the relationship when it comes time to sign that blockbuster contract. It is hard to imagine him turning down that kind of life-changing money to head elsewhere for less, but stranger things have happened in the NBA.