It’s safe to say the Dallas Mavericks are seemingly in the middle of turmoil. It all started with a piece by Tim Cato for The Athletic, highlighting the idea of a shadow general manager (Haralabos Voulgaris) within the organization. Mark Cuban responded to the article on Twitter, basically calling it nonsense (in a stronger way, of course). Since then, the Mavericks and general manager Donnie Nelson “mutually” parted ways, followed by the resignation of Rick Carlisle as head coach. These aren’t just drop-in-the-bucket kind of moves, as both have had extremely long and pretty successful tenures with the team. This turmoil is coming at the worst time too, with an extension looming for Luka Dončić and the future of Kristaps Porzingis up in the air.
Inside the Dallas Mavericks’ Front Office Turmoil
The Shadow GM
All roads apparently lead to Voulgaris. Formerly a professional sports gambler, Voulgaris was brought onto the Mavericks as the Director of Quantitative Research and Development in 2018. Since then, it’s been rumored that he’s been making a bulk of the organization’s decisions behind the scenes.
For example, he led the charge in the Mavericks drafting Josh Green over Saddiq Bey in 2020, according to Jonathan Wasserman. Voulgaris seemingly prefers analytics over the eye test, which ultimately led to this decision. Bey is a rookie all-first team player, while Green rarely saw the court. It’s too early to judge this move, but it’s an example of Voulgaris’ role.
The Athletic piece also touches up regarding the relationship between Dončić and Voulgaris. To put it simply, the Slovenian wonderboy isn’t fond of the former gambler. Dončić needs to be the future in Dallas, as he’s the future of the NBA, so it’s easy to see why this is an issue.
A team source said, “we have two general managers.” That’s not how organizations operate. The wild part about this story (so far) is that Voulgaris is still a part of the organization while two modern Mavericks’ legends are not. It’s likely that Cato’s piece was not nonsense as Cuban suggests.
The Dallas Mavericks Need to Keep Luka Dončić Happy
There’s no going around this topic. Dallas has not won a playoff series since their 2011 championship. Putting Dončić at risk of leaving will set the franchise back at least another decade. They struck gold drafting him and there’s no imaginable potential trade in the future that brings back fair value to Dallas.
If the rumors of Cuban siding with Voulgaris are true, then Dallas is in deep trouble. Signs indicate that Voulgaris is the main culprit of this mess and that Dončić doesn’t get along with him. Sure, Dončić is just 22-years-old, but this is his team. With his talent and status, it’s not farfetched to think he’ll be playing a LeBron James-like role when it comes to coaching and roster decisions.
Dončić is the present and future of the league. He’s well on his way to cementing himself as one of the greatest to ever play at this rate. Dallas needs to keep him happy at all costs or risk being the laughing stock of the league.
The GM Search
This offseason was supposed to be all about how to best shape the roster around Dončić. Although that still remains true, the team has two glaring positions open right now.
The general manager position is absolutely crucial. If allowed to maximize their role with a Voulgaris-like figure lurking around, the general manager will be the main contributor in building the roster. Dallas needs shooters and defensive help, has a boatload of free agents to make decisions on, and must decide what to do with Porzingis after his lackadaisical season.
If Dallas promotes from within, a logical choice is Michael Finley. He played for the Mavericks for over a decade and now serves as the Vice President of Basketball Operations. Finley knows the league as well as anyone, especially within the Mavericks, making him a strong candidate.
Another option to pursue is Masai Ujiri. Ujiri has a record of building excellent teams, and his contract with the Toronto Raptors is up. If Dallas opts for experience, Ujiri is a homerun hire.
Dallas Mavericks Searching for a new Head Coach for the First Time in a Decade
The team is also faced with finding a new head coach for the first time since 2008. Carlisle is a Mavericks’ coaching legend, but it remains a fact that the team has done very little in the postseason since 2011. Perhaps the front office drama accelerated his departure, but one would think Carlisle’s seat was getting out.
Another promotion from within would be Jamahl Mosley. Mosley is loved by the Mavericks’ players and even won a game this season filling in for Carlisle. Tim MacMahon mentioned that Dončić is an admirer of Mosley.
With Carlisle’s recent departure, there haven’t been concrete rumors on the next possible coach. It’s safe to say that other candidates gaining steam around the league – such as Chauncey Billups, Becky Hammon, Jason Kidd, Terry Stotts, and so on- would be in consideration as well.
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