The Dallas Mavericks have been struggling with chemistry issues, and it seems that they might be finally turning a corner. They are playing well as of late, but the team’s success is largely due to Luka Doncic’s contributions.
Luka Doncic has been playing for the Dallas Mavericks this season. Mark Cuban is the owner of the Mavericks.
When you can sit next to the guy who controls the whole company and smash your teammates, you know you’re one of the game’s greatest franchise stars. That’s precisely what Dallas Mavericks player Luka Doncic did at a news conference with Mark Cuban to announce his new record $207 million contract.
Doncic was brutally honest about what he believes is missing in his Mavs teammates and why he and his much less skilled Slovenian squad had such success at the Tokyo Olympics at a news conference from his home Slovenia.
Luka Doncic’s franchise is now the Dallas Mavericks.
With Luka Doncic’s press conference in Slovenia ready to begin, the Mavericks formally announce a new $200 million supermax deal extension for him. pic.twitter.com/FyMnW2y05k
10 August 2021 — Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine)
If there was any question that the Mavericks are Luka Doncic’s club, his largest-ever rookie contract put that to rest. Over the next six seasons, the Mavs will owe more than $217 million.
When a club inks a supermax contract with a player in the player empowerment era, the first objective is to keep him pleased. As a result, the time is ticking for Cuban and the Mavericks to assemble a championship-caliber squad around their star.
The first order of business for Cuban was to clean house in the managerial department. Rick Carlisle, the long-time coach, and Donnie Nelson, the general manager, both departed the club. Former Dallas point guard Jason Kidd was named to the bench, while former Nike shoe executive Nico Harrison was named to the front office.
He also retained former Mavs player Michael Finley as an assistant general manager and added Dirk Nowitzki, the team’s all-time leading scorer, as a special advisor.
This crew traveled to Slovenia to present Doncic with his NBA-altering contract, and Luka gave the new Mavericks brain trust their marching orders at the news conference that followed.
Kristaps Porzingis and his Dallas colleagues were the targets of Doncic’s not-so-subtle jabs.
Luka Doncic and Mark Cuban | Luka Dakskobler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
It’s no secret that the Mavericks’ chemistry isn’t great. Last season, Cuban almost acknowledged it on a local radio program, saying, “That’s not to say there aren’t dust-ups [between Doncic and Porzingis], because there are.”
A local Dallas reporter asked Doncic how much involvement he wanted on club personnel decisions at his news conference announcing his new contract from his home Slovenia. Doncic didn’t respond directly, but he did clarify what he wants from his teammates:
I know we made some fantastic free agency moves, but I believe one of the most essential aspects of winning is the team’s chemistry on the court. For example, in Slovenia, we had incredible synergy the whole time, which I believe helped us win games. That, I believe, is what Dallas needs.
On his Dallas Mavericks colleagues, Luka Doncic
Another reporter followed up by asking Doncic about lessons from his Slovenia experience that he can offer to the Mavericks “beyond the chemistry.” The superstar ratcheted up his criticism of his professional club.
On Slovenia, I believe everyone trusted everyone…. You know, everyone has each other’s backs. After the chemistry, it was the most essential thing.
Luka Doncic is a member of the Slovenian Olympic squad.
With rumors that Porzingis went to a strip joint on the night of a playoff game, it’s fair to presume he’s the guy Doncic is talking about when he says “trust.”
Kristaps Porzingis may be traded by the Mavericks.
In the playoffs, Kristaps Porzingis averaged 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 three-pointer per game.
This season, he is earning more money than Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bradley Beal, Jrue Holiday, Julius Randle, Jamal Murray, and Jaylen Brown. pic.twitter.com/N6HeWvT3Yl
6 June 2021 — StatMuse (@statmuse)
There doesn’t seem to be much question that the connection between Doncic and Porzingis is irreparably damaged. Luka’s thoughts about “chemistry” and “trust” appear to corroborate it if the rumors didn’t.
Now the issue is whether the Mavs can even deal their injured former star and, if so, if they can acquire a piece or two in return that will help Doncic win at least one playoff series.
Although Porzingis’ $31 million salary next year would be a good match for a disgruntled superstar’s deal (we’re looking at you, Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal), the odds of it occurring are low. The Mavericks don’t have the prospects or lottery choices to make that trade more appealing to a club.
The most the club can hope for is for Porzingis to return with a smorgasbord of shooters, 3&D wings, and/or defensive specialists to complement Doncic. Fortunately for Dallas, this may be a better option than adding another ball-dominant guard.
Sending the Latvian big man to Charlotte in exchange for the often injured Gordon Hayward or to Indiana in exchange for Myles Turner and salary cap filler may be the best they can do. However, one of Doncic’s countrymen would be the ideal trade for Dallas.
It would go a long way toward keeping Doncic happy if the Mavs could find out how to utilize Porzingis to entice Goran Dragic away from the Toronto Raptors. Although the statistics may make the transaction tough, a sign-and-trade with Stanley Johnson may help.
Simply by removing Porzingis from the equation, the Mavericks’ “chemistry” should improve significantly, allowing Luka Doncic and the new front office to develop a new level of “trust.”
Spotrac provided all contract data.
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