The Dallas Mavericks have brought in a new head coach and general manager to help smooth over their relationship with Luka Doncic.
Immediately after firing longtime general manager Donnie Nelson and seeing head coach Rick Carlisle resign, the Mavericks sought out to appease the stud guard. In turn, they hired a player-friendly head coach in Jason Kidd and former Nike executive Nico Harrison to run the front office.
All of this comes after an ugly first-round exit in the 2021 NBA Playoffs and questions regarding Doncic’s relationship with the Mavericks’ front office.
Will this change things in Big D? According to ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst, Luka Doncic could actually be a major part of the problem with the Mavericks.
“I don’t know how many people are going to be excited to play with Luka (Doncic). I think Luka is, maybe, a difficult person,” Windhorst said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Monday. “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.”
All of this comes amid suggestions from Mavericks owner Mark Cuban that Doncic and teammate Kristaps Porzingis do not boast the greatest relationship. Per Windhorst, this could impact who Dallas is able to acquire as a running partner for Doncic should the team move off Porzingis in a trade.
Reports following the resignation of Carlisle after 13 seasons with the Mavericks concluded that there was a contentious relationship between the respected head coach and Luka Doncic with the latter openly taunting Carlisle during games.
Luka Doncic and the drama in Big D
Immediately following the firing of Nelson after nearly a quarter-century as the Mavericks’ general manager, reports surfaced that Doncic was not happy. This came after some suggestions that the All-NBA performer displayed some discontent over the direction of the Mavericks’ organization, primarily the 2018 hiring and ultimate placement within Dallas’ front office of millionaire bettor Haralabos Voulgaris.
“Multiple league and team sources point to the 2020 draft as a particularly egregious example of Voulgaris’ power, an evening one source described as ’embarrassing.’ Most members of the scouting department joined the team’s war room remotely through Zoom and were surprised when Voulgaris, attending in person, didn’t consult them for either of the team’s first two selections (Josh Green and Tyrell Terry) despite disagreements they held with at least one of the players he picked,” The Athletic noted in a scathing rebuke of the Mavericks’ front office earlier in June.
As for the 22-year-old Doncic, he is the unquestioned face of the Mavericks’ franchise. On the court, the former top-three pick from Slovenia has put up an historical start to his career. He’s averaging 25.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.7 assists throughout his first three seasons. In this year’s playoffs, Doncic averaged a split of 35.7/7.9/10.3 despite his Mavericks falling to the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games in the first round.
The question now becomes whether Luka Doncic has gained a “difficult” reputation within the confines of the NBA community. That is to say, difficult to play with and difficult to coach.
It’s an important backstory as Dallas enters a summer littered with questions and franchise-altering decisions. How this plays out will tell us a lot in Big D moving forward. That’s for sure.