The Dallas Mavericks and President of Basketball Operations Donnie Nelson have mutually agreed to part ways, the team announced on Wednesday afternoon. This comes shortly after reports stated Nelson was out as President and GM of the franchise. It’s also a few days after reports surfaced that “shadow” GM Haralabos Voulgaris had created a rift between the franchise and superstar Luka Doncic.
Update: Luka Doncic talked to reporters on Thursday and commented on Nelson leaving the franchise.
Luka Doncic, from Slovenia with his national team, on Donnie Nelson's Mavericks exit:— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 17, 2021
"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."
Update: The Mavericks will hire an outside search firm to help find a new team president, per Marc Stein of The New York Times.
Doncic, who is eligible for the max extension this offseason, was apparently rubbed the wrong way by Bob Voulgaris, who is thought to be pulling the strings behind the scenes in Dallas, per a report from The Athletic a few days ago. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban came out and called the report “bullshit” and that there wasn’t a rift. It made sense at the time considering Doncic had hinted at reporters he would sign the super max extension worth around $200 million this offseason.
After this announcement, it’s clearly becoming a little tense in Dallas. Nelson had been with the franchise for 23 years, the son of legendary head coach Don Nelson, who spent 8 seasons leading the Mavericks during his Hall of Fame career. Donnie had built up a reputation for his international scouting, helping bring in talents like Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Kristaps Porzingis and Doncic.
Let’s put on the tin foil hat for a second and connect the dots. Is there a chance Donnie leaked the story to The Athletic a few days ago and these are the consequences? That seems totally feasible (though purely speculative here). If this is the case, do we really need to start worrying about Bob’s impact on Doncic’s future with the franchise? You’d think Cuban being the smart business billionaire he is wouldn’t let a former gambler get in the way of holding onto arguably the best basketball player on the planet.