Luka Doncic’s Desire to Remain With Mavericks Long-Term Could Be Impacted by Sports Gambler With No League Experience Having Near-Total Control of Roster

Assuming he gets named to one of the three All-NBA teams this season, Luka Doncic is expected to sign the supermax extension with the Dallas Mavericks in the offseason. The contract extension will be worth more than $200 million over five seasons after his rookie contract expires next summer. 

The Mavericks are hopeful that Doncic takes the Dirk Nowitzki route and stays in Dallas his entire career. While that could happen, Doncic’s desire to remain with the Mavericks long-term could be impacted by a sports gambler with no NBA experience prior to 2018 reportedly having near-total control of the roster.

Luka Doncic reportedly doesn’t like Haralabos Voulgaris

In 2018, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban hired Haralabos Voulgaris, a well-known sports gambler, as director of quantitative research and development. According to a report by The Athletic, Doncic is not a fan of Voulgaris, who has been the most influential voice within the front office since joining the team.

During a February home game against the Golden State Warriors, Doncic turned the ball over and saw Voulgaris motion downward with his hands. When the All-Star point-forward went up to him, he reportedly told him, “Don’t fu***** tell me to calm down,” per The Athletic.

Doncic also reportedly didn’t like what Voulgaris did during an April contest versus the New York Knicks when the latter left his courtside seat with 45 seconds remaining in regulation. The NBA superstar reportedly told teammates he viewed Voulgaris leaving before the game’s conclusion as “him quitting on them.”

Voulgaris has reportedly gone as far as scripting the Mavericks’ starting lineups and rotations for head coach Rick Carlisle. That’s how much Cuban apparently trusts him. The longtime Dallas owner was won over by Voulgaris’ vision, which is an analytics-driven spread pick-and-roll offense.

Donnie Nelson is the Mavericks’ president of basketball operations, but Voulgaris has almost become the second-most powerful voice in the organization. His personality and decision-making have “steadily irritated and exasperated the team’s front office employees and players over the course of the three seasons he’s been employed,” per The Athletic.

Voulgaris’ contract expires this summer. If Doncic despises him that much, it would make sense for Cuban to move on from the polarizing figure. However, based on Cuban’s response to The Athletic’s article, that may not happen.

Mark Cuban has strong reaction to Luka Doncic-Haralabos Voulgaris rumor

Cuban took to social media to react to The Athletic’s bombshell report. He said the story was “bulls***.” He also told Jordan Schultz of ESPN that Voulgaris isn’t his shadow GM.

“I listen to everyone,” Cuban said. “And I certainly listen to Luka. The whole idea that there is a shadow GM is ridiculous.”

The Mavericks have lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in the last two playoffs. Doncic is already one of the top players in the NBA, but he needs more help to go on a deep postseason run. It’s safe to assume that the Wonder Boy probably wants someone other than Voulgaris building the team around him.

It will be fascinating to see what the Mavericks do with Voulgaris this summer. It sounds like Cuban respects his input and wants him to stick around. However, if Doncic doesn’t like the famous sports gambler, Cuban must part ways with Voulgaris since Luka is the face of the franchise and someone you want to satisfy.

There’s a reason he’s called Luka Legend

Doncic has taken the NBA world by storm since coming over from Slovenia. He won the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year Award after averaging 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists and has made the All-Star team the last two years.

Through his first 199 NBA games, Doncic is averaging 25.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 7.7 assists. He already has 36 career triple-doubles, which is good for 11th in NBA history. The Mavericks are fortunate they have a generational talent in the post-Nowitzki era, but they better be careful and not mess things up by making Doncic unhappy.

Just because Doncic signs the supermax extension doesn’t mean he’s signaling he wants to retire with the Mavericks. No one can turn down over $200 million. However, Doncic could request a trade a year or two after he signs the extension if he doesn’t like what he sees in Dallas.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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