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#pounditMonday, September 27, 2021

Here is why some with Mavericks are concerned Luka Doncic could leave

Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic has been openly unhappy with the way each of his first three seasons in Dallas have ended. That is understandable considering the Mavericks have not advanced past the first round of the playoffs, but some people within the organization are reportedly concerned that Doncic’s frustrations extend beyond that.

Tim Cato and Sam Amick of The Athletic published a story on Monday detailing Doncic’s negative feelings toward Haralabos Voulgaris, who is one of Mark Cuban’s most trusted adversaries. Voulgaris, a well-known sports gambler who was hired by Cuban in 2018, is viewed by many as the second-most powerful man in the Mavericks organization behind Cuban. There is concern about the “inflamed relationship” between Doncic and Voulgaris, as Cato and Amick describe it.

There were reportedly multiple incidents this past season where Doncic was openly angry with Voulgaris. In February, Voulgaris was sitting with his laptop in his courtside seat across from the Dallas bench when he made a downward motion with his hands as if to say “calm down.” Sources told The Athletic that Doncic snapped back with, “Don’t f—ing tell me to calm down,” though Voulgaris later claimed he was not motioning directly toward Doncic.

Then in April, Voulgaris left his courtside seat during the final minute of a Mavericks loss to the New York Knicks. Dallas was trailing by 10 at the time but cut the lead to six and extended the game by several possessions. They eventually lost, but Doncic took note of Voulgaris leaving earlier.

According to The Athletic, Doncic told teammates in the locker room after the game that he took Voulgaris’ early departure to mean the executive has given up on the team. Voulgaris was not seen sitting courtside at a game after that.

Voulgaris has had input on everything from draft picks to lineup decisions. Some with the Mavs feel Cuban has given him more power than general manager Donnie Nelson. The belief is that dynamic — combined with the Mavericks’ postseason struggles — could make Doncic rethink whether he wants to remain with the franchise.

Doncic will be eligible for a $200 million supermax extension this offseason, and he hinted recently that he will sign it. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be locked in with Dallas. NBA stars force trades all the time, so there’s no reason Doncic couldn’t do the same in a year or two.

Between the Voulgaris relationship and the recent questions about the dynamic between Doncic and another Mavs star, Cuban may have to consider some serious changes this offseason.

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