Luka Doncic

NBA GMs High On Cavs’ Offseason Moves, Bucks’ Title Chances

The Cavaliers‘ acquisition of Donovan Mitchell made their offseason the most successful of any NBA team, according to the league’s general managers. In his annual survey of the NBA’s top basketball decision-makers, John Schuhmann of NBA.com writes that 41% of the GM respondents picked Cleveland as having made the best offseason moves, while 59% chose the addition of Mitchell as the move that will have the biggest impact.

The Timberwolves and Jazz were on opposite ends of one of the summer’s other blockbuster trades, but the two clubs tied for second (along with the Sixers) in the GM vote for which teams made the best overall offseason moves. Minnesota’s trade for Rudy Gobert was the second-leading vote-getter for the offseason’s most impactful single acquisition, earning 31% of the vote.

The team viewed by the majority of GMs as the title favorite for 2023 didn’t earn any votes for having the best offseason. According to Schuhmann, 43% of the poll respondents picked the Bucks to win next year’s Finals, with GMs apparently betting on continuity in Milwaukee. The Warriors (25%), Clippers (21%), and Celtics (11%) also received votes.

Here are a few more interesting results from Schuhmann’s GM survey, which is worth checking out in full:

  • NBA general managers expect the Clippers – who will have Kawhi Leonard back – to be the most improved team in 2022/23. L.A. received 41% of the vote, with the Cavaliers and Pelicans at 17% apiece.
  • The Celtics‘ trade for Malcolm Brogdon earned the most votes (28%) for the summer’s most underrated acquisition. The Sixers‘ signing of P.J. Tucker and the Clippers‘ addition of John Wall were the runners-up, with 14% each.
  • Asked which team has the most promising young core, NBA GMs overwhelmingly chose the Cavaliers (41%) and Grizzlies (38%). The Pistons (10%) were the only other club to get multiple votes.
  • NBA GMs view Magic forward Paolo Banchero as the best bet to win Rookie of the Year (79%) and also chose him as the 2022 draftee most likely to be the best player in five years (31%), narrowly edging Thunder big man Chet Holmgren (28%). As for the steal of the draft, GMs were split between Pistons big man Jalen Duren and Rockets forward Tari Eason (14% apiece), among many others.
  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic was picked as the favorite to win MVP, earning 48% of the vote from NBA GMs. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks came in second with 34%.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Mavericks, Doncic, Spurs

Although the Pelicans didn’t make any major offseason changes to a team that posted a 36-46 record in 2021/22, their expectations for the coming season are higher than ever. Zion Williamson is set to return from a foot injury that has sidelined him since last summer, CJ McCollum will be spending his first full season in New Orleans, and the team’s young contributors like Herbert Jones, Jose Alvarado, and Trey Murphy all have a year of NBA experience under their belts.

During a speech this week at the Greater New Orleans Quarterback Club, Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin said he’s excited to see how the team will respond to its increased expectations, as Christian Clark of NOLA.com relays.

“What’s going to be really exciting for us is we have an incredible amount of talent,” Griffin said. “We have more talent than I’ve had almost anywhere I’ve been, including teams that won a championship. But this talent has never had to win a game when they were supposed to win a game. That’s really the next step in our evolution.

“… Last year, we won games at the end of the season when nobody thought we were any good,” Griffin added. “It’s a whole lot easier to be the hunter than the hunted. We were good last year. We get an opportunity now to prove that we’re actually a good team. That’s a super-exciting time in the growth and evolution of a franchise. We never get these moments back.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Speaking to ESPN’s Malika Andrews during an NBA Today appearance (video link), Luka Doncic said he doesn’t think the Mavericks need another All-Star player to be a legit title contender. “No, I think we have great players on our team,” he said. “There’s plenty of very underrated guys that I think should be talked about more. So I don’t think (we need another All-Star). I think we have a great team.”
  • The Spurs issued a press release today announcing several changes to their front office and coaching staff. Notably, the team has promoted Dave Telep to vice president of basketball operations, named former NBA center Greg Stiemsma a player development assistant, and hired longtime WNBA star Candice Dupree as a player development coach.
  • Another noteworthy former player is moving into an important role at the G League level for the Spurs. Ex-NBA guard Brent Barry has been named the general manager of the Austin Spurs, San Antonio’s NBAGL affiliate, the club announced today.

And-Ones: Top Under-25 Players, Wade, EuroLeague, More

Fifteen NBA executives polled by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype unanimously picked Mavericks star Luka Doncic as the NBA player under 25 years old whom they’d most want to build a team around. While Doncic’s selection comes as no surprise, there are some interesting picks further down Scotto’s list, which was derived from asking those 15 NBA execs to name the five players under 25 they’d most want to build around.

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and Grizzlies guard Ja Morant ranked second and third, with Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley following them at No. 4. Former first overall picks Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves) and Zion Williamson (Pelicans) came in at Nos. 5 and 6, with last season’s Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes (Raptors) rounding out the top seven. You can check out Scotto’s full story to see the other seven rising stars who received votes.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • After spending three years in an analyst role with the network, Dwyane Wade won’t return to TNT for the 2022/23 NBA season, reports Andrew Marchand of The New York Post. According to Marchand, TNT made an offer to retain Wade, but he decided to leave his position to focus on other business ventures.
  • Euroleague Basketball has appointed Dejan Bodiroga as its new president and Marshall Glickman as acting CEO, per a press release. They’ll replace Jordi Bertomeu, who served as president and CEO for 22 years and was a co-founder of Euroleague Basketball, which operates and oversees the EuroLeague and EuroCup, two of the world’s biggest non-NBA basketball leagues.
  • Former NBA star Baron Davis and ex-NBPA executive director Michele Roberts are among the backers of the new Fan Controlled Hoops league, which is scheduled to launch in February of 2023, as Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic outlines. The league, which will follow in the footsteps of Fan Controlled Football, will feature 4-on-4 games played on an LED floor, with fans getting the opportunity to illuminate parts of the court to create zones where players get extra points when they score.

Western Notes: Sengun, Garuba, Edwards, Doncic, Brunson

The Rockets are pleased with the offseason efforts of young big men Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes.

“Our guys have really been in the gym. They’ve been working really hard,” Rockets general manager Rafael Stone said. “Even the guys that haven’t been here, which is Alperen and Usman, have done great overseas. So, it’s been a good summer.”

Sengun and Garuba have been playing in Eurobasket, and Sengun projects as a starter this season for the Rockets. “I think both of them have gotten better game-by-game-by-game, and that’s rewarding,” Stone said. “Some of the stuff we’ve asked them to work on, they’ve worked on, and in real time, you can see some of the results.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly expressed disappointment regarding Anthony Edwards‘ homophobic comments on social media. The team released a statement from Connelly, which read, “We are disappointed in the language and actions Anthony Edwards displayed on social media. The Timberwolves are committed to being an inclusive and welcoming organization for all and apologize for the offense this has caused to so many.” Edwards earlier issued an apology for his “immature, hurtful, and disrespectful”comments.
  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic sat out practice on Monday ahead of Slovenia’s quarterfinal matchup with Poland on Wednesday, Basketnews.com relays. Doncic had his right ankle wrapped in ice but the severity of the injury is unknown. Doncic has been setting scoring records in the tournament.
  • Doncic’s former Mavericks teammate, Jalen Brunson, said his backcourt partner will be a lock for the Hall of Fame, Dalton Trigg of SI.com relays. Brunson made those comments with USA Today’s Sports Seriously. “I truly loved playing with him because we were in a position to win every night, because of him,” Brunson said. “I’ve said this numerous times and I’ll continue to say it until I speak it into existence; That dude is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”

EuroBasket Notes: L. Brown, Antetokounmpo, Doncic, Ukraine

Former NBA point guard Lorenzo Brown is part of a controversy at the EuroBasket tournament, according to Eurohoops. Brown scored 28 points and handed out eight assists Saturday, leading Spain to an overtime win over Lithuania in an elimination game. At the post-game press conference, Lithuania’s Mindaugas Kuzminskas suggested the outcome would have been different if not for Brown, who was born in the United States but recently became a Spanish citizen.

“I am not sure how this team would look without Lorenzo Brown because you signed him only this summer,” Kuzminskas said to a Spanish reporter. “But it is how it is.”

Brown, 32, was a second-round pick in the 2013 draft and played for four teams in a five-year NBA career that ended after the 2018/19 season. He has been with several overseas teams since then and recently signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv.

“Even if I haven’t been here long, I feel like these guys … they have known each other so long and they brought me in as one of them,” Brown said in response to Kuzminskas’ comments. “So it’s just an amazing feeling to have that brotherhood, “la familia” as they call it. It’s really a family. I am coming in here and I am a regular American guy and those guys are talking in Spanish. And I am learning every single day, so it’s amazing what I have learned and how they treated me so far. The outside noise doesn’t bother me at all. I am just worried about what these guys feel about me. And it’s amazing. They love me and I love these guys.”

There’s more from EuroBasket:

  • Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was able to take part in practice without any pain and is expected to play in today’s game against the Czech Republic, according to John Rammas of Eurohoops. Antetokounmpo suffered a mild ankle sprain in Thursday’s contest.
  • Although more than 30 NBA players are involved in this year’s tournament, Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic clearly stand above the rest, Slovenian forward Edo Muric told Rammas in a separate story. “They are both great players, they are next level. So if they want, they can score 50. In (Doncic’s 47-point) game against France, we played without our starting center, so Luka had to step up. That proves he is a very big player, beating France almost by himself, and Giannis is right there, too.”
  • Ukraine’s EuroBasket run ended today with a loss to Poland, but the team served as a source of pride for the war-torn nation, per The Associated Press. Players weren’t able to train in their own country in the wake of the Russian invasion, so they practiced wherever they could. “I hope it inspires and helps them a lot, just to get their thoughts off the war a little bit and just watch us play,” Svi Mykhailiuk said. “Obviously, today was not a great example of us playing, but this whole time, we did our best. I hope they enjoyed it. Obviously, it’s tough for everybody because all the guys’ families are still there and it’s tough having to be here. But I appreciate everyone being here. I appreciate everyone fighting.”

Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Trademarks, EuroBasket, Ntilikina

Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic is in a legal battle with a family member regarding trademarks, Marc Stein reports in a Substack article.

On Tuesday, Doncic filed a petition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office seeking to cancel the registration of the trademark “LUKA DONCIC 7” currently owned by his mother, according to his representative, the firm Brown Rudnick.

Doncic faced a Tuesday deadline with the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to file the petition. He’s been trying to regain full control of trademarks that bear his name, including several owned by his mother, Mirjam Poterbin.

We have more on Doncic and the Mavericks:

  • Doncic led Slovenia past Belgium in EuroBasket 88-72 on Saturday with a game-high 35 points. Slovenia advanced to the quarterfinals. As noted by Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link), Doncic has played 197 minutes in the tournament and produced 168 points and 39 assists.
  • Not everyone is impressed with Doncic’s scoring rampage. Belgium center Kevin Tumba complained to Donatas Urbonas  of Basketnews.com that Doncic has benefited from favorable treatment by referees. “We tried to be focused on ourselves. But sometimes referees need to be fair with everybody,” Tumba said. “It’s not because he is Luka and can talk to the referees like he wants. When the other guy tries to talk with the referee very calmly, he responds, “Don’t talk to me.”
  • Despite the big output, Doncic was asked about his weight during the postgame press conference, Eurohoops.net relays. Doncic responded, “If I cared about what people I don’t hang out with say, I wouldn’t be here. I don’t mind at all.”
  • Frank Ntilikina could benefit from Jalen Brunson‘s departure but only if he can hold his own offensively, Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com writes. Ntilikina is a skilled defender but has been a liability offensively during his career. He averaged under 12 minutes per game last season and even fewer minutes during the postseason.

International Notes: Schröder, Bogdanovic, Lithuania, Bosnia

Veteran point guard Dennis Schröder, still a free agent, served as the primary force behind the German national team beating the Bosnian national team in EuroBasket play on Saturday, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

MacMahon notes that two high-ranking Mavericks front office executives, team president Nico Harrison and vice president Michael Finley, watched Schröder’s performance from court side seats. MacMahon adds that Harrison and Finley are present at EuroBasket to cheer on Dallas All-Star guard Luka Doncic, playing for Slovenia.

The 6’3″ Schroder, still just 28, split his time between the Celtics and Rockets last season on a one-year, $5.9MM deal. Cumulatively, he averaged 13.5 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.3 RPG and 0.8 SPG across 64 games, including 29 starts.

The Mavericks currently have 14 players signed to their 15-man standard roster, as well as four training camp invitees and one two-way player.

Here are more notes from around the international basketball scene:

  • Following the conclusion of this year’s EuroBasket competition, 33-year-old veteran Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic will retire from playing for the Croatian national team, per FIBA.basketball“I would like to leave something behind me,” Bogdanovic said of his hopes to medal this year. “So this EuroBasket is a perfect chance for me and my teammates to do something special… It’s going to be pretty hard. I’m trying to help my young teammates to grow pretty quickly – and to make an impact on the game, right here, at this tournament.”
  • After officials penalized German national team head coach Gordon Herbert with a technical foul in the final minutes of the third quarter of their EuroBasket game against the Lithuanian national team on Sunday, those referees failed to award a free throw to the Lithuanian national team. Germany would go on to win the game, 109-107, in double overtime, and Lithuania has opted to file a protest, per Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews“I don’t know, we should’ve won the game before [the overtime] just like the last two,” [Lithuanian team forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas] told BasketNews. “It’s tough. That one shot that we weren’t given cost us in the overtime. There’s nothing you can do now. Maybe we paid too much attention to it.”
  • In a surprising upset, Doncic, Goran Dragic and the Slovenian national team fell to Bosnia 97-93 today in EuroBasket play, per Eurohoops. The loss moves Slovenia into a tie with Bosnia due to an identical 2-1 record. Doncic had won all 11 of his prior EuroBasket contests.

And-Ones: Doncic, International Prospects, Playoff Contenders, Bluiett

Mavericks All-Star guard Luka Doncic is hoping to win it all at EuroBasket this year, per Eurohoops. The 6’7″ guard is playing for his native Slovenia in the competition. Led by Doncic and countryman Goran Dragic, the Slovenian national team won EuroBasket in 2017. Dragic retired from international play after the event — but unretired in time to suit up this year’s event.

“We are going to Germany [the locale for the event] to win gold,” Doncic told reporters. “In every competition where we compete, the goal must always be the first place. We will do everything for it, but we will see if we make it. In 2017, no one took us seriously when we announced our attack on the gold medal, today is different. It’s nice when you see that everyone will make an extra effort against us to win.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The 2022 FIBA U18 European Championship in Izmir, Turkey featured several intriguing international NBA prospects, as Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) writes. Givony, evaluating the best candidates among the young talent, considers two French players – versatile shooting guard Sidy Cissoko and defensive-oriented small forward Rayan Rupert – to be the most exciting players at the event.
  • With NBA training camps just a month away and many of the summer’s big transactions in the rear view, Tim Bontemps and Kevin Pelton of ESPN assess which clubs have fully committed to succeeding in the present, and how much of their future leverage they have surrendered to get to this point.
  • Former Pelicans two-way player Trevon Bluiett has agreed to terms on a deal with Polish club MKS Dabrowa Gornicza, a source informs our own JD Shaw (Twitter link). The 27-year-old wing went undrafted out of Xavier in 2018 before joining the Pelicans via a two-way contract. He toiled with NBAGL clubs the Westchester Knicks and the Salt Lake City Stars until 2021, but never ended up making his regular season NBA debut. The 6’6″ swingman subsequently went overseas, playing for clubs in Turkey and Germany.

Mark Cuban Suggests Mavericks Don’t Need A “Second Star”

Asked by Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report (video link) whether Luka Doncic has enough talent surrounding him to win a title, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggested Dallas already has the pieces in place to accomplish that goal.

“We hadn’t been out of the first round in 10 years and so a lot of it was execution and talking to our guys during the series, that was the thing that kept coming up,” Cuban said of the Western Conference Finals matchup against the Warriors (hat tip to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net). “… So I think for us it’s not so much we need that second star or whatever, it’s more, let’s just get some time and experience in crunch time situations in the playoffs and that will pay off.”

As we relayed last night, Cuban also credited Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins as a difference-maker in the series, and said Golden State’s combination of execution, experience, and adjustments made the team too difficult for the Mavericks to handle.

Cuban’s comments are noteworthy for a few different reasons. After trading Kristaps Porzingis to the Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, the Mavs found success with lineups featuring multiple shot creators and floor spacers, as well as more versatile defenders. Obviously Porzingis was pegged to be Dallas’ second star, but things never really worked out with the 7’3″ big man for a variety of reasons.

He didn’t state it outright, but Cuban’s comments give the impression the club didn’t view Jalen Brunson as a star, and the Mavs were reportedly unwilling to match — or exceed — the contract he received in free agency from the Knicks. Brunson had a strong playoff run for Dallas, averaging 21.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 3.7 APG on .466/.347/.800 shooting in 18 games (34.9 MPG), so losing him will sting.

Along the same lines, it could be interpreted that Dallas doesn’t view offseason acquisition Christian Wood as a star either. The Mavs traded the No. 26 pick of the 2022 draft and four players on expiring deals to Houston to land Wood.

Of course, how a team perceives players doesn’t matter nearly as much as the on-court product, and the Mavs are coming off their most successful season since winning the championship in 2011. The question is, have they done enough to keep progressing toward another ring? With the Clippers and Nuggets getting healthy, potential improvement from the Timberwolves and Pelicans, and the Warriors, Grizzlies and Suns still in the picture, the West is going to be stacked with talent in 2022/23, so winning the title certainly won’t be easy.

Rooks’ interview with Cuban lasts over an hour and is worth checking out in full for any Dallas fans.

More Than 30 NBA Players On Track To Suit Up For EuroBasket

The first EuroBasket tournament in five years will tip off in two weeks and there are currently 34 NBA players on track to participate in the event, representing 17 different countries, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net.

EuroBasket is a 24-team international basketball competition also known as the European Basketball Championship. It historically took place every two years, but that gap was recently adjusted to four years, emulating the FIBA World Cup schedule.

The last EuroBasket tournament was played in 2017 — the next one had been scheduled for 2021, but was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics. As a result, after being played every two years since 1947, it has now been five years since the last EuroBasket tournament, easily the longest layoff since World War II.

It’s possible that some NBA players will be cut from their teams’ rosters or will have to drop out due to injuries or personal reasons before the event begins on September 1, but in general enthusiasm to participate in the long-awaited event appears high.

Here’s the list of NBAers currently set to play in EuroBasket, per Eurohoops:

There are also multiple NBA free agents on EuroBasket rosters, including French swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and German guard Dennis Schröder.

A number of young NBA players, such as 2022 draftees Jeremy Sochan and Nikola Jovic, have dropped out to focus on getting ready for the 2022/23 season, while others, including Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia) and Frank Ntilikina (France), were ruled out due to injuries.

Round robin play will begin on September 1, with each team facing the other five clubs in its group once. The top four teams in each group will advance to a 16-team bracket that begins on September 10. The final will take place on September 18, just over a week before NBA training camps get underway.