Just a few years ago, Donnie Nelson‘s Dallas Mavericks front office made the move to take young Slovenian star Luka Doncic in the NBA Draft, swapping picks with the Atlanta Hawks, who selected Trae Young. At just 22 years old, Doncic is a franchise, potential MVP-level player who Mark Cuban certainly hopes is the team’s next career superstar, following in the footsteps of Dirk Nowitzki.
Luka has been exceptional through just three NBA seasons, making two All-NBA First Teams in 2020 and 2021 after winning Rookie of the Year in 2019. There is basically no better three-year start to a career imaginable, short of an NBA title.
Earlier this month, word came out that the two sides were nearing a $200 million extension. “I think you know the answer,” Doncic said when asked about the reported five year deal, signaling that he was set to be with the Mavericks into his prime.
From that point, things have gotten very interesting within the Mavericks front office. According to a report by Tim Cato of The Athletic, another front office member, Haralabos Voulgaris, had grown major influence in recent years, drawing the ire of Luka. Cuban shot the story down after it was published, but today, Voulgaris was removed from his role, and Donnie Nelson and the team “mutually parted ways” after 24 years with the franchise. ESPN’s Marc J. Spears says that the Nelson news does not sit well with the young superstar.
“Donnie was fired, let’s just be real. He’s been there since 1988, and I’ve heard one guy that’s really upset about it is a guy you don’t want upset about it: Luka Doncic. They were really close,” Spears said on The Jump today.
“Doncic’s in Slovenia, working out with the Slovenian national team getting prepared for the Olympics, and he will have a statement tomorrow at a press conference. I’m not sure what he’s going to say, but apparently he’s going to make a statement about Donnie’s firing tomorrow. I’m also being told, in terms of the $200 million extension, how are talks going? People close to him are saying ‘What talks?’ There’s no talks right now.”
Ultimately, it is hard to imagine Luka Doncic not taking $200 million, but it is not a great sign that there is already serious friction between the Dallas Mavericks and their young superstar.