Doncic, Kidd and the grotesque Cuban: key year for the Mavs

Carlisle's firing has uncovered an internal war in Dallas and questioned its culture. The team, forced to win to please Doncic.


Arden the Mavericks. Luka Doncic's team has been embroiled in a civil war that already existed, but it was made public this summer. The waters have calmed down and now everyone is trying to smile, but no one forgets that the elimination against (again) the Clippers in (again) the first round came with dire consequences. Donnie Nelson, a manager who had been linked to the franchise for almost 25 years, was saying goodbye thanks to Mark Cuban, that grotesque owner. The internal war had as its own name another executive, a Haralabos Voulgaris who, according to The Athletic, was the main promoter of the dismissal of the son of the mythical Don Nelson and of the all-out battles that were beginning to arise between Luka Doncic and the entity. . And, as if that were not enough, Rick Carlisle came out in a way that was as sudden as it was surprising, while information leaked about his supposed bad relationship with the Slovenian, who is in all of them.

Nothing is what it seems, and nothing seems what it is. What a few years ago was an exemplary franchise in managing egos, the ability to value veteran players, pay tributes to former stars and have memories, has been destroyed in just a few weeks. Cuban has skipped his own moral ladder to end his fetish coach, the one who gave the promised ring to an aging but talented group, who rounded out Dirk Nowitzki's career, fulfilled the owner's dream and was also chosen to lead the project. next, the one that changed a German for a Slovenian and looked long-term, following the tradition that Cuban himself established as of January 4, 2000, when he bought the majority of the Mavericks' shares for $ 285 million.

Cuban has always been a curious guy. Eccentric and riddled with fines for infamous outbursts and lousy behavior, he has been true to his value chain and has changed the way the NBA viewed its managers. Pioneering a way of being that has not had any continuity, he sponsored a Dirk Nowitzki who came before him and made him his franchise player. He sat next to the bench, just behind, and his fuss and celebrations (or curses) have caused a furor for better or worse and his players have not always liked, with Nowitzki supporting the attitude only in spades. The leaks of his words towards, for example, Lamar Odom, in his brief stint in Dallas (just 50 games) were not well received, but his closeness with the players sometimes paid off and established a new way of relating to the squad. , never imitated but always curious from the outside.

The owner gave the first to Don Nelson, whose son, who was gone today, was already on the board of directors. And it allowed the coach to develop and lay the foundations of what would be the later game, the pick and roll, the short possessions, the bulky results, a greater use of the triple and a striking and fun game very typical of Nelson, which He was always more focused on marking people with his style with his results. In fact, he is the coach with the most victories in the history of the NBA, but he has never gone beyond the Conference finals that he did overcome with the Celtics in his stage as a player, in the 60s and 70s, conquering up to five championships and being key in any of them. The Mavs came to that round in 2003 before the wear was noticeable and Avery Johnson landed on the bench in the middle of 2004-05. Johnson came to the team he had played for in his penultimate active stint and led him to the Finals, but the defeat stained the legacy of a good coach without aura and the 2-0 wasted against the Heat was Chinese torture for Nowitzki. that he would not reach redemption until later.

Rick Carlisle, from Olympus to Hell

A new face would arrive in 2008, with Johnson worn out and the need for a new speech turned supine. He was a fine coach whose brilliant and reputable resume included being second and attacking leader for Larry Bird's Pacers and subsequently coaching the Pistons and the Pacers themselves, leading both teams to the finals. Conference. Carlisle was here to stay, Cuban brand, to lead a new project alongside a manager with whom all his coaches have lasted a minimum of three years. The 2011 ring was redemption and vindication, the rise to Olympus of Nowitzki's legends with a veteran, but perfectly compensated and extremely talented group: Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, DeShawn Stevenson, Jason Kidd (yes, Jason Kidd), Jason Terry (the only survivor of the 2006 Finals loss), Shawn Marion ... In 2012, the Mavs returned to a playoffs without those who were left in 2013 for the first time in 12 seasons, a streak that lasted since the arrival of Mark Cuban and his well-known culture to the Texas bench.

Nowitzki's last years served to play in the finals up to three more times, all with a first-round loss. The German said goodbye sharing his final year with Luka Doncic, the rising star, the face of the future, the young promise called to dominate the NBA with an iron fist. And with Nowitzki, Carlisle did not leave, to whom Cuban did not penalize the weak records of recent years in which, true to his style, shared in a certain way in substance (not in form) with fellow Texans from San Antonio, everyone honored the German as the star that he was. The phrase "Nowitzki will retire when he wants to" resonated a lot on social networks and Cuban never tried to get the power forward to leave early (or sooner than he wanted to) ^). His loyalty to the European was seen many times, but the example of 2004 is the clearest of all: the Lakers tried a trade to send Shaquille O'Neal to Dallas in exchange for Nowitzki with the intention of satisfying Kobe Bryant, to whom he he liked power forward. Cuban refused.

With Carlisle everything has gone smoothly, but it does not seem that the relationship he had with Cuban was the same with Doncic. The surprise has been capitalized to see how a man always neat, educated and well-groomed has had problems with someone. For the Slovenian, the interference in his game was excessive, something that happened in his day with Rajon Rondo, who saw his creativity and capacity for innovation slowed by the coach. But it was well-crafted tactics and scoring a play that always came off the bench that led to the Mavericks' success. In one way or another, Cuban, whose interventionism has never been in tactics, has given one of lime and one of sand: Donnie was out to satisfy a Voulgaris who, by the way, ends his contract without anyone knowing if he will renew and extend the enormous influence exerted on the owner; Carlisle, to do the same with Doncic. The Slovenian complained about the manager's departure and has concealed his joy for the coach, but he, who has returned to the Pacers, dropped, jokingly (and jokingly, eye), that of "now I'll just have to see Doncic twice a year ... ". Anyway, we don't know what exactly happened. But we do know that something has happened.The moment of the project

The arrival of Jason Kidd, participant of the 2011 ring under the command of the man he has come to replace, has many dark areas. Since leaving the Bucks, his second team as coach, he has been an assistant with the Lakers. The deal with the players is valued from him ... and everything else is criticized. His tactical ability is highly questioned, and he has a notable lack of certain knowledge, especially when considering him for a winning team. Or, at least, that he is in the same situation as the Mavericks, a franchise that desperately needs to advance. Why? Three years with Doncic, the first validated with Nowitzki and the next two with defeats in the first round, with a superior rival, but in similar situations that have revealed a sovereign stagnation ... and a certain fatigue on the part of Luka Doncic, something that always worries in an NBA that does not wait for anyone. And in which nobody waits for things to happen. Provoking them, in the era of the empowered player, is a custom that has almost become a mantra that has to be fulfilled.In the end, the excessive pampering was enough for Doncic to accept that super maximum that Cuban put on the table months ago, that he insisted that he sign after the elimination against the Clippers and that some thought he was going to ignore. The arrival of Kidd, a good players coach (in theory), slightly assuaged the anger of the point guard, and the transfer of the coach, along with Nowitzki (almost an ambassador for the Mavericks) to Slovenia to convince him, had optimal results. In the end, 207 million in five seasons, the biggest contract ever signed for a player of just 22 years, and the definitive commitment that he will be the face of the franchise for the next few years ... or not. In an NBA where transfers and movements are forced, in which the great players refuse to play to land elsewhere (see James Harden) and have more ring options, it is not worth just paying your great reference. The millions are helpful, but they don't assure you anything if things start to go really bad. They are a support, yes. But in today's NBA, never a guarantee.

Now comes the moment of truth. A key year for the Mavericks in which it will be decided whether to jump forward or stay as a team that fights for the last places that give access to the playoffs and say goodbye to the first change. Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown join the team, but they don't seem like enough for a squad that hasn't delivered a real hit. And yet, what needs to be resolved is internally: Kristaps Porzingis is still overpaid, with $ 31 million, $ 33 million and $ 36 million remaining for him in the next three seasons, the last with a player option. His relationship with Doncic is not good and he is not the star he promised, with constant injuries and an irregularity that is his best (and, sadly, only) logo. Meanwhile, Brian Windhorst drops that Doncic is a difficult person and his weight problems and criticism of his habits keep happening. In addition, nobody knows anything about Voulgaris, Kidd is unknown, Cuban has lost the north and has run out of a compass and the future is as uncertain as unlikely to be deduced. Key year among critics. Sperpento of the past, which may be the future. Difficulties, problems, controversies and civil war. Little room for optimism.

Y Trae Young, meanwhile, has already played his first conference finals. There it is.

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