Mark Cuban

Mavericks Notes: Kokoskov, St. Jean, Front Office, Porzingis

The Mavericks are working on adding former Suns head coach and current Fenerbahce coach Igor Kokoskov to Jason Kidd‘s staff as an assistant, according to multiple reports. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) first reported that Dallas was targeting Kokoskov, while Marc Stein (Twitter link) said there’s “tangible optimism” the Mavs will be able to hire him.

As Stein explains (via Twitter), Kokoskov is technically still under contract with Fenerbahce in the EuroLeague, so the Mavs and the Turkish club would have to come to some sort of agreement releasing him from that deal.

In addition to coaching the Suns for one season (2018/19), Kokoskov has worked as an assistant for seven other NBA teams. He and Kidd never overlapped at any of those spots, but Kokoskov does have one noteworthy connection to the current Mavs — he was the head coach of the Slovenian team that won gold in the 2017 EuroBasket tournament, led by Luka Doncic.

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • The Mavericks are also expected to hire Greg St. Jean to their coaching staff, Stein reports (via Twitter). As Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group observes (via Twitter), St. Jean has been a player development coach and advance scout for the Lakers for the last two years and is tight with Kidd.
  • At a Mavs’ press conference on Thursday, Nico Harrison was introduced as both the team’s general manager and president of basketball operations, Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News notes (via Twitter). However, team owner Mark Cuban said he’ll still be the one making the final call on basketball decisions, tweets Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. I always do because it’s a lot of money,” Cuban said.
  • Cuban declined to say whether Haralabos Voulgaris is still with the Mavs, according to Caplan (Twitter link). A report last month indicated Voulgaris had gained an outsized influence within the team’s front office but wasn’t yet under contract beyond 2020/21.
  • While there has been speculation that the Mavs may explore trading Kristaps Porzingis this offseason, the team gave no indications on Thursday that such a move is in the cards. Kidd raved about Porzingis’ fit in Dallas and said he expects to see “a different KP” going forward, while Cuban said the big man has been “unfairly maligned” (Twitter links via Caplan).

Rick Carlisle Steps Down As Mavericks Head Coach

3:50pm: The Mavericks have confirmed Carlisle’s departure in a press release (Twitter link).


3:10pm: Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle is stepping down from his post after 13 years in Dallas, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. He had two years left on his current deal with the club.

Carlisle’s crowning achievement in Dallas was leading the club to its only NBA title in 2011 with superstar power forward Dirk Nowitzki.

It appeared that, with the recent ascent of young First Team All-NBA guard Luka Doncic, Carlisle would be well-positioned to lead the club to many future deep playoff runs. During the last two seasons, Carlisle and Doncic led the Mavericks back to the playoffs, where they lost two consecutive hard-fought first-round battles against the Clippers.

In head coaching tenures with the Pistons, Pacers, and Mavericks, Carlisle, 61, has accrued a regular season head coaching win/loss record of 836-689. He was voted the 2001/02 Coach of the Year while with Detroit. His teams have made the playoffs in 14 of his 19 seasons as a head coach.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (Twitter link), Carlisle had been the third-longest-tenured current NBA head coach, behind only five-time champion Gregg Popovich with the Spurs and three-time champion (twice as the head coach, once as an assistant) Erik Spoelstra with the Heat.

For an organization with the level of relative infrastructural stability the Mavericks had demonstrated for over a decade, this has been an unprecedented few days.

Earlier this week, a report by The Athletic detailed major front office conflict surrounding sports gambler-turned-director of quantitative research and development Haralabos Voulgaris. Yesterday, news became public that the team had parted company with GM Donnie Nelson, who had worked in the Dallas front office for 24 seasons and had held the GM position for 16 years. The decision had actually been reached on Sunday, a day before The Athletic’s scathing story was published.

The Mavericks are now the seventh team to lose a head coach following the 2020/21 season. The Wizards, Trail Blazers, Celtics (the team that drafted Carlisle in 1984), Pacers (the team for which Carlisle served as a head coach from 2003-2007), Pelicans, and Magic also have head coaching vacancies. Should Carlisle want to continue coaching, there are several playoff-caliber rosters among these, sporting six 2021 All-Stars, available as of this writing.

Carlisle released a statement addressing his departure to ESPN (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski):

“After a number of in-person conversations with Mark Cuban over the last week, today I informed him that I will not be returning as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. This was solely my decision. My family and I have had an amazing 13-year experience working with great people in a great city. It has been an honor to work along [with] Mark, [Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall], Donnie, [vice president of basketball operations Michael Finley], [assistant GM Keith Grant], Dirk, [former Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd] and every player and assistant coach I’ve had here. Dallas will always be home, but I am excited about the next chapter of my coaching career.”

Cuban has also weighed in on the news.

“I truly love Rick Carlisle,” he said in a statement to ESPN (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN). “He was not only a good coach but also a friend and confidant. Our relationship was so much more than basketball. And I know that won’t ever change.”

As for Dallas’ fresh vacancy, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets that star Doncic is a big fan of assistant coach Jamahl Mosley. “He’s got the things needed for a head coach,” Doncic noted after Mosley subbed in for Carlisle during a 99-86 win over the Knicks this spring.

Mosley has been a Mavericks assistant since 2014. John Hollinger of The Athletic concurred (Twitter link) that Mosley would get significant consideration.

Doncic had still been expected to ink a super-max contract extension once he became eligible later this summer after the news broke of Nelson’s departure, despite a strained relationship with Voulgaris. MacMahon tweets that the relationship between Carlisle and Doncic had also been tense, and that Carlisle may have been coaching for his job during the 2021/22 season.

Cuban informs Marc Stein of the New York Times (via Twitter) that he will look to replace Nelson as the new head of basketball operations before finding a replacement for Carlisle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mavs Rumors: Front Office, Voulgaris, Doncic, Carlisle

Haralabos Voulgaris, a well-known sports gambler who was hired by the Mavericks in 2018 as the team’s director of quantitative research and development, has gained an outsized influence in the front office, Tim Cato and Sam Amick write in a fascinating new report for The Athletic.

Multiple team and league sources tell Cato and Amick that Voulgaris has either initiated or approved virtually every one of Dallas’ roster moves within the last two years and has had input on Rick Carlisle‘s lineups and rotations. Although president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson continued to take the lead on major transactions, Voulgaris’ influence has been virtually on par with Nelson’s, The Athletic duo suggests.

“We had two general managers,” one team source told Cato and Amick.

Voulgaris’ relationship with team owner Mark Cuban paved the way for him to become a significant voice in the Mavs’ front office, and Cuban told The Athletic that he “really” likes what Voulgaris brings to the table, downplaying the idea that he has more influence than “any other data source on the team.” However, Voulgaris’ personality and decision-making has bothered other members of the front office during his tenure with the club.

“What did (he) sell to Mark to make him believe (he) can do this? Nobody knows,” one source with “intimate knowledge” of the situation told The Athletic. That same source added: “He doesn’t know how to talk to people.”

Earlier this year, Voulgaris appeared poised to gain further control in the front office, but now his contract is set to expire and his future with the Mavs is uncertain, according to Cato and Amick. One major factor the team must consider is the fact that superstar Luka Doncic doesn’t seem to be on particular good terms with Voulgaris — The Athletic’s report describes the pair as having a “strained relationship.”

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • Cato and Amick point to the 2020 draft as a “particularly egregious example” of Voulgaris’ front office power, reporting that members of the scouting department – who were part of the team’s war room via Zoom – were surprised when they weren’t consulted for the Mavs’ selections of Josh Green and Tyrell Terry. The club’s scouts disagreed with Voulgaris on at least one of those players, per The Athletic.
  • Despite the fact that Doncic isn’t on great terms with some members of the Mavericks organization, including Voulgaris, the two-time All-Star has a “healthy relationship” with the organization at large, per Cato and Amick. Multiple sources tell The Athletic that Luka intends to sign a super-max contract extension with the Mavs once he’s eligible this offseason. Still, the franchise is starting to feel some urgency to upgrade the roster to make it a legit title contender, and to ensure Doncic will want to stick around beyond his second contract.
  • Some of Cato’s and Amick’s sources were surprised to see Cuban publicly endorse head coach Rick Carlisle so quickly – and so forcefully – after Dallas’ first-round exit. According to The Athletic’s report, there was a sense during the season that Carlisle’s future might be in the air beyond this season, and that some players were frustrated with his rotation decisions. However, Carlisle proved to be adaptable and made modifications to relieve that tension, presumably giving the Mavs the confidence to stick with him going forward.

Mavs Notes: Hardaway, Arena Capacity, Doncic-KP, Barea

Mavericks swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. has had a terrific year for Dallas, but Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News wonders if the reserve wing will look for greater opportunity in unrestricted free agency this summer. Hardaway is in the final season of a four-year, $71MM deal he initially inked with the Knicks.

Hardaway has been primarily a bench contributor to the Mavericks this season, having been a reserve in 49 of the 70 games he has played. Townsend notes that Hardaway’s play has positioned him as a potential Sixth Man of the Year candidate for 2020/21. “If I go on the bench, I think this bench that we have is deep,” Hardaway said. “Whether I’m starting, whether I’m coming off the bench, it’s just me trying to be aggressive and be the best basketball player I can be for the team.”

“(Mavericks head coach) Rick Carlisle’s done a great job with him,” raved Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue. “He’s playing at a high level right now. I think he’s their X-factor.” 

There’s more out of Dallas:

  • The capacity of the Mavericks’ home arena, American Airlines Center, has been boosted to 12,000 fans for the playoffs, writes Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. Team owner Mark Cuban said he would prefer to have full-capacity crowds, but amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA is still imposing crowd capacity restrictions. “Now we know we’ll be at at least (12,000), and we’re pushing if we can get some modifications done to the arena in time to get to (15,000),” Cuban said in an interview with local radio station 105.3 KRLD-FM The Fan.
  • The ability of Mavericks All-Star guard Luka Doncic and forward Kristaps Porzingis to thrive alongside one another will not only dictate the team’s playoff ceiling this spring, but will have an impact on the team’s long-term future, writes Tim Cato of The Athletic.
  • Former Mavericks reserve point guard J.J. Barea, who recently joined Cangrejeros de Santurce in his native Puerto Rico, spoke with Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News in an extended conversation. Barea notes that his NBA career appears close to over, but he would relish the opportunity to perhaps return to Dallas as an assistant coach. “I want to stay in contact with the team for the next couple years, and then definitely, when a coaching job opens up, I want to keep getting my experience ready for coaching,” Barea said. “I would love to work for the Mavericks and be in Dallas and be a part of the Mavericks forever.”

Mavericks Notes: Terry, Redick, Porzingis, Cuban

Rookie guard Tyrell Terry is back with the Mavericks after missing the past eight weeks due to a personal matter, according to Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. Terry, the 31st pick in last year’s draft, has played just 11 games for Dallas. He was in the G League bubble with the Memphis Hustle in February, then left the Mavericks on March 17 to deal with personal issues.

Terry has been going through light workouts to regain his conditioning and isn’t in uniform for tonight’s game, Caplan adds. He hasn’t been in an NBA game since late January, and it’s uncertain if he’ll play at all before the season ends Sunday.

“It’s unlikely that he’ll dress (for) any of these three games because he’s been out for quite a while,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “But I shouldn’t say that’s 100%, either. We’ll have to see what our numbers look like.”

There’s more from Dallas:

  • After leaving Tuesday’s game with soreness in his right heel, Mavericks guard J.J. Redick won’t play any more during the regular season, tweets Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. “He’s getting his right heel evaluated and then we’ll see where we are,” Carlisle said.
  • Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis is playing tonight for just the second time since April 22, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Porzingis, who has been dealing with soreness in his right knee, is on a minutes restriction, but Carlisle refused to specify what the limit is (Twitter link). Carlisle said Porzingis “understands it’s about helping the team win games but also getting him back” on the court and preparing for the postseason. He added that the team has determined its best lineups are with Porzingis at power forward, rather than center (Twitter link).
  • In an interview with Marca, a Spanish sports publication, Porzingis denied having any disputes with Luka Doncic (translation from Alessandro Maggi of Sportando). “I’ve never had any problems with my teammates off the court, I’ve always gotten along very well with them,” Porzingis said. “I don’t know what (team owner Mark) Cuban was talking about. I try to be as professional as possible, do what I have to do and be a soldier for the team.” In a recent radio interview, Cuban suggested there had been “dust-ups” between the two stars, relays Sam Quinn of CBS Sports.

Southwest Notes: Jackson, Cuban, Porter, Bilas

Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. has proven worthy of reclaiming his starting role with the club, writes Mark Giannotto of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“The plan was always for me to just get the rhythm with the guys that are out there,” Jackson said of his acclimation back onto the Grizzlies roster. “It doesn’t really matter what rotation it is because we have so many guys playing.”

“The big picture is we’re having a lot of dialogue about what our rotations are going to look like,” Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • With new Rockets wing Kevin Porter Jr. scoring a career-high 50 points against the Bucks in a 143-136 win, it’s become clear that head coach Stephen Silas feels confident in the promising 20-year-old, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “I was just so proud of him,” Silas raved. “He’s been through quite a bit. To see him free and almost getting into the zone, … it was so fun to watch.” Porter registered his respect for his coach as well. “Really, he just gives me that confidence to go out there and play how I play, play how I’ve been playing all my life,” Porter said. “Once a coach gives you basically a green light and the keys, the sky’s the limit.”
  • Mavericks team owner Mark Cuban sat down for a conversation with Tim Cato of The Athletic to discuss the NBA’s new play-in tournament, the relationship between All-Star Dallas guard Luka Doncic and former All-Star forward Kristaps Porzingis, and the team’s approach to building around its two most high-impact players.
  • Before ultimately hiring Daryl Morey as the Rockets‘ new general manager in 2007, former Houston owner Leslie Alexander apparently gave serious consideration to former player and current college analyst Jay Bilas for the position. Bilas told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski during a recent interview on Woj’s podcast that the Rockets offered him the job, but that the two sides couldn’t agree to terms (hat tip to RealGM).

Cuban: Implementing Play-In Tournament During Compressed Season A “Mistake”

Within the last 24 hours, Mavericks star Luka Doncic and team owner Mark Cuban have each criticized the concept of the NBA’s play-in tournament, as Tim MacMahon details in a pair of stories for ESPN.com.

Cuban is part of the NBA’s Board of Governors, which unanimously approved the proposal to implement a play-in tournament for the final two playoff spots in each conference. However, it sounds like the Mavericks owner is having second thoughts about the concept, calling it an “enormous mistake” to introduce the play-in games during a compressed season.

“The worst part of this approach is that it doubles the stress of the compressed schedule,” Cuban told ESPN. “Rather than playing for a playoff spot and being able to rest players as the standings become clearer, teams have to approach every game as a playoff game to either get into or stay in the top six since the consequences, as Luka said, are enormous. So players are playing more games and more minutes in fewer days.”

Cuban’s comments came the day after his franchise player offered his own criticism of the play-in idea.

“I don’t understand the idea of a play-in,” Doncic said on Monday. “You play 72 games to get into the playoffs, then maybe you lose two in a row and you’re out of the playoffs. So I don’t see the point of that.”

The play-in tournament will pit the seventh and eighth teams in each conference against one another, with the winner securing the No. 7 seed. The loser of that game will then face the winner of a game between the ninth and 10th seeds for the final playoff spot.

Cuban’s complaint about implementing the play-in tournament during a compressed schedule is valid, since teams are more concerned than ever about keeping players healthy while playing 72 games in 146 days (instead of the usual 82 in 177) following a shortened offseason.

Still, it’s hard to separate Cuban’s and Doncic’s critiques of the play-in tournament from Dallas’ place in the standings. The Mavericks currently have a 29-24 record, putting them seventh in the West and two games back of the sixth-seeded Trail Blazers. It’s perhaps no coincidence that Cuban offered an alternate solution that would allow the Mavs to avoid a play-in game.

“I get why the NBA is doing it,” Cuban said of the play-in tournament. “But if we are going to be creative because of COVID, we should go straight up 1-20 and let the bottom four (seeds) play in.”

If the league were to seed teams regardless of conference, allowing the top 12 to secure automatic postseason berths while the next eight participated in a play-in, the Mavs would be in better shape — they hold the NBA’s 10th-best record.

Cuban: Mavs Only Interested In Acquiring Another Star

The Mavericks don’t plan on making any trades before next Thursday’s deadline unless they can acquire a star player, owner Mark Cuban said recently on the Mavs Step Back Podcast (video link).

“Unless it’s a game-changing star, I don’t see us doing anything at all,” he said. “So, if someone decides they’re blowing it up, OK, we’ll talk to anybody about any great player. If it’s just ‘We’ll trade this guy for that guy’ and it’s not really going to move the needle, I’d rather go with continuity.”

Cuban added that the only other circumstances in which the Mavs would look to make a trade are if another team “makes a mistake” or offers a “great player” in a salary-dump deal.

The most significant trade the Mavs made during the offseason was sending Seth Curry to the 76ers for Josh Richardson and the rights to Tyler Bey. They also dealt Justin Jackson, a 2023-second rounder and a 2026 second-rounder to the Thunder and Delon Wright to the Pistons for James Johnson. In terms of free agency, they re-signed Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Burke.

Cuban said those moves – which allowed the team to retain 2021 cap space – had nothing to do with hoping that Giannis Antetokounmpo or other stars would chose free agency this offseason.

“The changes we made, the trades we made weren’t about setting us up for the coming summer,” Cuban said. “Not at all. We wanted defense, we wanted toughness and that’s what we went out and got.”

Western Notes: Porzingis, Spurs, Hollins, Azubuike

Having disputed a Bleacher Report story that indicated the Mavericks have gauged the trade market to get a sense of Kristaps Porzingis‘ value, team owner Mark Cuban also took exception to a specific part of Jake Fischer’s report.

Fischer cited one Western Conference executive who described Porzingis as looking like a “scarecrow” on defense and who added, “I’m not sure the guy can guard anybody.” That quote didn’t sit well with Cuban, who expressed his displeasure to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).

“We are not happy that there is a supposed ‘Western Conference exec’ ripping on one of our players,” Cuban said. “There is no trade discussion. I think they just used it as a way to put out there what they think of KP.”

Here’s more from around the West:

  • There’s no exact timeline for the return of the five Spurs players who are sidelined due to the health and safety protocols, head coach Gregg Popovich said on Monday night. “Each one is a little bit different,” Popovich said, per Tom Osborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). “It depends on the testing they do. So, I think a few more days, the quarantine period ends, but then there are a couple more days of more tests to see how it has affected them.”
  • Lakers assistant Lionel Hollins missed Monday’s game for personal reasons and isn’t traveling to Utah for Wednesday’s game either, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
  • The Jazz have recalled Udoka Azubuike from the G League, according to RealGM’s transactions log. The rookie center recently suffered a severe ankle sprain while playing for the Salt Lake City Stars and isn’t expected to be available anytime soon, so it seems he’ll move to the NBA squad while he continues his recovery.

Southwest Notes: Cuban, Pelicans, Rockets, Wood

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban spoke to his team prior to the club’s game against the Warriors on Saturday night, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes.

Cuban addressed the locker room at the request of head coach Rick Carlisle, whose Mavs are now 3-7 in its last 10 games.

“He was just very encouraging about the entire situation,” Carlisle said. “He reiterated that we’ve had the toughest schedule in the league to this point, that we have an opportunity here and none of these games are going to be easy.

“He just wanted everybody to know that he was fully supportive of everything and everybody. Good stuff from the heart.”

The Mavericks defeated the Warriors 134-132 in the contest, led by Luka Doncic‘s 42 points, seven rebounds, and 11 assists. The team, which has been impacted by injuries, holds the second-worst record in the Western Conference at 10-14.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans have emphasized the meaning of “trust” in recent games, Christian Clark of Nola.com writes. New Orleans is on a three-game winning streak, and Stan Van Gundy, Zion Williamson, and others pointed to that as one reason why. “It’s just coming together and telling each other we trust each other to make the right play,” Williamson said. “Ultimately, I think it’s just trust with us.”
  • The Rockets are continuing to struggle with slow starts, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes. Houston dropped a 116-106 contest to the Spurs on Saturday with another relatively slow start, causing the team to fight an uphill battle the rest of the game. The club is still 7-3 in its last 10 outings.
  • Houston will have to adjust without the likes of Christian Wood, who suffered a right ankle sprain last week and will be re-evaluated on a weekly basis, Feigen notes in a different story. The Rockets started DeMarcus Cousins on Saturday, who finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. “You just go to know your personnel,” John Wall said. “It’s two different guys. It’s the game of basketball, knowing your guys and knowing where your guys like the ball and what type of position they like to be in. That’s my job, to make the game easier for him and put them in the right positions to be successful.”