It was quite a week for the Mavericks. First, they parted ways with longtime general manager Donnie Nelson. The next day, coach Rick Carlisle stepped down.But with star guard Luka Doncic eligible for a supermax contract extension this summer, Doncic is where the Mavs’ focus will remain.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban is expected to first hire a new GM before a coach. Assistant head of basketball operations Michael Finley is reportedly among the early candidates, but the Mavs are also hiring an outside search firm.
Either way, Doncic was close to Nelson, and while the move isn’t expected to keep him from signing an extension, he was clearly impacted by the decision.
“It was kind of tough on me,” Doncic told reporters in Slovenia, where he’s preparing to help his home country try to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. “I really like Donnie. It was tough on me, seeing that, but I’m not the one making decisions there.”
Nowitzki spent all 21 seasons with the Mavs, making him the longest-tenured player with one team in NBA history. Cuban is hoping to get a similar commitment from Doncic.
Along with that, the Mavs have to figure out what will become of forward/center Kristaps Porzingis after the season. Word is, he was a little frustrated with his role.
“I try to keep it simple for myself, so I’m not overthinking, and I try to focus on what I can control,” Porzingis said at the end of the season. “That’s being a better basketball player, going into the offseason hungry. I want to get better physically [and] on the basketball court. I’m going to put that work in to get better, and then the rest of the stuff will resolve itself.”
But not all was always well, it seemed.
Per RealGM: “Porzingis frequently made thinly veiled references during his postgame media availabilities, such as saying the ‘ball actually moved tonight’ after high-scoring performances or stating that the offense didn’t involve him on low-scoring nights.”
No matter, the focus for the Mavs is Doncic. They have always had lots of stability — from Nowitzki to Carlisle to Nelson. Now they are aiming to make their No. 1 option feel comfortable, as if Dallas is a good place to stay.
That, more than any other moves, will be the Mavs’ most important task this summer.