Luka Doncic

Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Jones, Roster, Cuban

In the wake of the Mavericks‘ disastrous finish to the 2022/23 season, there was plenty of speculation a year ago about Luka Doncic‘s future in Dallas, with some media members suggesting the team would have to make real strides within the next year or two in order to secure the star guard’s long-term commitment.

Following an NBA Finals run this spring, that no longer seems like a concern, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, who says all indications are that Doncic will be willing to sign a super-max extension in July 2025 once he has the necessary seven years of NBA service. The 25-year-old said after Monday’s season-ending loss that he feels “great” about the Mavs’ future.

“We did some great (personnel) moves,” Doncic said. “I would say we’ve been together for five months. I’m proud of every guy that stepped on the floor, all the coaches, all the people behind (the scenes). Obviously, we didn’t win Finals, but we did have a hell of a season.”

Doncic’s enthusiasm about the franchise’s direction is shared by his backcourt partner Kyrie Irving, who is under contract in Dallas for at least the next two seasons.

“I just feel like the sky’s the limit,” Irving said, per MacMahon. “I have an opportunity to be on a special team that can be one of the teams that dominates in this era. That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out the past few years, of how to be on a great team, be in an organization where I’m trusted, and also we’re able to succeed and fail together, and doing it in a way where we still have each other’s backs, and no one is giving up on the dream or the goal. Our goal is still to win a championship.”

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • Based on their current salary projections, Dallas won’t be able to offer more than the taxpayer mid-level exception (about $5.2MM) to free agent forward Derrick Jones, though the team could potentially open up some or all of the non-taxpayer MLE ($12.9MM) with some tweaks to the roster, MacMahon writes. Mavs general manager Nico Harrison wants to find a way to bring back Jones. “He’s a part of our core going forward, so hopefully we can figure that out,” Harrison told ESPN.
  • Regarding the rest of the roster, Harrison said he likes where it stands but acknowledged that there’s always room for improvements. “I think we have a really good core and really good complementary pieces,” Harrison told MacMahon. “Having said that, I mean, I’ve been here for two years and so I think my reputation is starting to (form). If there’s an opportunity to make it better, I’m going to do that for sure.”
  • Former Mavericks majority owner Mark Cuban no longer has control of the team’s basketball operations, MacMahon confirms. Still, as Howard Beck of The Ringer writes, Cuban – now a minority stakeholder – can take credit for three risky moves that set up the club for this year’s success: hiring Harrison as GM; hiring Jason Kidd as head coach; and trading for Irving. Harrison had worked at Nike rather than for an NBA team, Kidd had been fired from two previous head coaching jobs, and Irving’s value had fallen due to injury issues and off-court controversies. “For sure, they were risks,” Cuban told Beck. “I mean, there were a lot of people who just like rolled their eyes at me. But each of them brought a unique set of skills to the table that I didn’t have, that the organization hadn’t had, and I thought were valuable and important.”
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) previews the offseason in Dallas, writing that the Mavericks have some trade assets available – including its 2025 and 2031 first-round picks and Tim Hardaway‘s expiring contract – and suggesting they could use another play-making guard, perimeter depth, and a floor-spacing big man.

Mavericks Notes: Irving, Doncic, Lively

Kyrie Irving had a pair of rough outings during the first two games of the Finals  in Boston. With the series shifting back to the Celtics’ home court for Game 5 on Monday, the Mavericks guard says he must block out all “self-doubt” with the Mavericks trying to stay alive, The Athletic’s Joe Vardon writes.

Irving shot 13-for-37 from the field in Games 1 and 2.

“Let’s call it what it is, when the fans are chanting ‘Kyrie sucks’ or anything, they feel like they have a psychological edge — and that’s fair,” he said. “If I’m not making shots or turning the ball over, that makes it even more of a pressing issue that they can stay on me for. So I think in order to silence even the self doubt, let alone the crowd doubt, but the self-doubt when you make or miss shots, that’s just as important.”

Irving will switch up his mental approach in Game 5, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

“Be prepared for what I’m getting myself into,” Irving said. “Most importantly, not making this about me or getting into the energy with anyone else other than my teammates. That’s about it.”

We have more on the Mavs:

  • Head coach Jason Kidd was a top assistant with the Lakers before getting the top job with the Mavericks. Kidd says Luka Doncic and LeBron James have a very comparable mental approach. “They’re very similar,” Kidd told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “They’re very similar, IQ-wise. Both just off the charts. Luka doesn’t have athleticism like LeBron has. But they do a lot of things similar and they both really know the game.”
  • The Mavericks are trying to make history by erasing a 3-0 deficit and Doncic says it’s all about faith in themselves. “I think the most important thing is to show that we believe,” he said, per MacMahon. “I think we showed in Game 4. If not, if we wouldn’t believe, we probably wouldn’t have won that game. So I think obviously the talk is easy to talk about it, but then showing it is another thing. I think we showed it.”
  • Rookie big man Dereck Lively is still amazed how far he’s come in one year, according to Schuyler Dixon of The Associated Press. ”I wouldn’t have expected myself to be in this spot whenever I looked at the draft a year ago,” he said. ”The draft is a week away. Last year, a week away from the draft, my heart was pumping because I didn’t know what was going to happen. And now I’m playing in the NBA Finals.’

Mavericks Notes: Game 4, Adjustments, Doncic, Kidd

The Mavericks came away with the third-largest victory in a game in NBA Finals history on Friday, defeating Boston 122-84 to cut the Celtics’ series lead to 3-1, Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com writes.

We had to play our A game,” coach Jason Kidd said. “It was this or we go on vacation. I thought the group did a great job of not pressing, letting the game happen. We made a stand. We were desperate. We got to continue to keep playing that way. They’re trying to find a way to close the door. The hardest thing in this league is to close the door when you have a group that has nothing to lose. Tonight you saw that. They let go of the rope, you know, pretty early.

Luka Doncic put up a strong first half with 25 points, helping the Mavericks build a big early lead that they never surrendered. Doncic had spoken after Game 3 about wanting to have fun on the court again, and it certainly seemed like that was the case in Game 4, Sefko writes.

It doesn’t change anything,” Doncic said. “It’s first to four. And we’re going to believe until the end. So we’re just going to keep going. I have big belief in this team.

We have more from the Mavericks:

  • The Mavs finally made their opponent think by making some critical adjustments, The Athletic’s Tim Cato writes. Dallas has historically done well in the playoffs after falling into a deficit under Kidd, and Game 4 was no exception. Dereck Lively II looked comfortable and Dante Exum saw more action, scoring 10 points off the bench and proving he can contribute. “We waited until Game 4 to ultimately play our best game,Kyrie Irving said. “But we have another opportunity to extend the season. That’s all we can ask for. We handled our business tonight. But the job is still an uphill battle, and we understand that.
  • Doncic showed the basketball world that he’s willing and ready to take a step with his game, Sam Amick of The Athletic writes. Doncic apologized for his Game 3 actions involving referees and then was more composed in Game 4. Amick writes that Doncic’s three steals also signal his willingness to improve as a two-way player.
  • Kidd defended Doncic prior to Game 4, Joe Vardon of The Athletic observes. “For whatever reason, there have been some personal attacks on him, but he will learn from them and he will be better when he comes back from it,” Kidd said ahead of Friday’s game. Kidd said Doncic deserves a break but also pointed out that some of the league’s greatest have taken this sort of criticism before finding long-term success.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Mavs, Spurs, Rockets, Pelicans

Luka Doncic has averaged nearly 30 points per night in the first three games of the NBA Finals, but the Mavericks were outscored by 10 points when he was on the floor in Game 1; he committed eight turnovers and missed four free throws in Game 2; and he made just 11-of-27 shots in Game 3 before fouling out of a three-point game with over four minutes still on the clock. He has also been repeatedly targeted on defense over the course of the series.

While head coach Jason Kidd isn’t throwing in the towel on this series with his team facing a 3-0 deficit, he noted on Thursday that no matter what happens the rest of the way, he expects his star player to learn from the challenges he has faced this spring and use those experiences as a springboard to get even better in future seasons.

“The history is there for us to learn from, when you look at great players and the struggles,” Kidd told reporters (story via Dan Devine of Yahoo Sports). “You look at (Michael Jordan) and the struggles that he had against Detroit. You look at some of Magic Johnson’s struggles. You look at LeBron (James‘) first time around (against the Spurs in the 2007 Finals). It’s there to learn from. But the great ones, they use that going into the next season, or the next couple of seasons, to try to get back there. Because now they understand experience is a big thing.”

Here’ more from around the Southwest:

  • Kidd isn’t planning to make any changes to the Mavericks‘ starting lineup in Game 4, he said on Thursday, as Joe Vardon of The Athletic relays.
  • Which prospects in this year’s draft would fit best next to Victor Wembanyama for the Spurs? Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) considers that question, offering up some suggestions for San Antonio at No. 4, No. 8, No. 35, and No. 48. Kentucky guards Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham are Givony’s top suggestions for the fourth overall pick, while Nikola Topic and Dalton Knecht lead his list at eighth overall. Terrence Shannon, Adem Bona, Cam Spencer, and Jaylen Wells are among the players Givony likes as second-round targets.
  • The Spurs appear to be eyeing more experienced backcourt prospects with their second-round picks, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required), who takes a closer look at Boogie Ellis‘ recent visit to San Antonio and notes that Houston’s Jamal Shead also recently worked out for the club.
  • Shead visited Houston on Friday, confirms Kelly Iko of The Athletic, tweeting that Tyler Thomas (Hofstra), Isaiah Stevens (Colorado State), and N’Faly Dante (Oregon) were among the other prospects working out for the Rockets. The club controls the No. 44 overall pick in addition to No. 3.
  • An evaluation of Smoothie King Center’s infrastructure is nearing completion, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com, who says the results of that assessment will help determine whether the Pelicans renovate their current arena or need to build a new one.

Texas Notes: Wembanyama, Carter, Shead, Luka

With Spurs rookie center Victor Wembanyama already seemingly on the cusp of superstardom, Andrew Lopez of ESPN wonders if San Antonio will be able to make itself an appetizing landing spot for free agents.

The 7’4″ Rookie of the Year averaged 21.4 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 3.9 APG and 3.6 BPG across his 71 healthy contests with the club in 2023/24.

Should the Spurs cut veterans Devonte’ Graham and Charles Bassey, they could easily open up close to $20MM in cap space this summer to upgrade their roster around Wembanyama.

Lopez acknowledges that San Antonio did sign free agent All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge while he was still in his prime, and, later, an aging Pau Gasol after a pair of All-Star berths on the Bulls. Otherwise, San Antonio has generally grown internally, signed role player free agents, or improved via trades.

During remarks made at the end of the 2023/24 regular season, general manager Brian Wright indicated that he hoped to use the 20-year-old Wembanyama to lure top-tier free agents eventually.

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • The Spurs, possessors of the Nos. 4 and 8 lottery picks in this month’s forthcoming draft, still need a long-term point guard compatriot for Wembanyama. Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News argues in favor of San Antonio considering Providence guard Devin Carter. The 2023/24 Big East Player of the Year seems likely to be available with the eighth pick, McDonald speculates.
  • University of Houston coach Kelvin Sampson revealed that former Cougars point guard Jamal Shead is slated to work out for the Rockets this Friday, reports Joseph Duarte of The Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • All-NBA Mavericks guard Luka Doncic conceded that he has been frustrated by the officiating in the ongoing NBA Finals, in which Dallas trails the Celtics 3-0. The All-NBA guard was whistled for his sixth foul and thus ejected from a critical Game 3 matchup Wednesday with 4:12 left in regulation. Per Tim MacMahon of ESPN, Doncic is looking to move past his frustrations with the recent refereeing. “Go back to playing fun,” Doncic said of his intended approach on Thursday. “We talk about how we come back from [21] points in the fourth quarter in the Finals. We were having fun. We were defending. We were running. Our pace was great. Just taking good shots.” During a conversation with ESPN’s Malika Andrews (Twitter video link), Doncic ultimately still felt responsible for the team’s eventual 106-99 loss in Game 3. “It was tough, probably wasn’t the smartest thing,” he said of fouling out.

Mavs Notes: Doncic, Officiating, Defense, Lively

Luka Doncic has a long history of officiating complaints and Game 3 of the Finals on Wednesday was no different. The Mavericks superstar fouled out with 4:12 remaining and felt he was victimized by unfriendly whistles, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

“We couldn’t play physical,” Doncic said. “I don’t know. I don’t want to say nothing. You know, six fouls in the NBA Finals, basically I’m like this (motioning with his palms up). Come on, man. Be better than that.”

The sixth foul, in which Jaylen Brown tripped over Doncic’s knee, was challenged by coach Jason Kidd. However, Kidd knew it wouldn’t be overturned, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes.

“I was stuck. I had to challenge it,” Kidd said.

All but two of the fouls whistled against Doncic occurred in the fourth quarter.

We have more on the Mavs:

  • Doncic is feeling the burden of being a superstar on the NBA’s biggest stage, Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic opines. Doncic simply hasn’t excelled at both ends of the floor, which is why his team is staring at a 3-0 deficit in the series. Thompson adds that the All-NBA guard will eventually will join the ranks of the ring bearers once he learns how to elevate his game in these situations.
  • Doncic’s defensive shortcomings are the elephant in the room, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports notes. That’s been a major obstacle for the team to try to overcome. “He’s got to be able to guard and understand that we’re there to protect him and help him if he does get beat,” Kidd said.
  • The team’s belated rally was sparked by rookie Dereck Lively, who implored his teammates to keep their heads up even as they fell behind by as many as 21 points. “He rallied us tonight, Came to the bench and just told us to keep believing,” Kyrie Irving said, per Tim Cato of The Athletic. Irving and the veterans are impressed by Lively’s maturity. The big man struggled during the first two games and was quick to take the blame. “For him to take accountability like that after Game 2, to be 20 years old, that’s a big step,” Irving said. “The journey is the reward. I always told him this mission is bigger than us. It’s just not solely focused on this year. We have a future together where we’re going to continue to grow as teammates.”

Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Exum, Kidd, Cuban

For a third straight NBA Finals game, Luka Doncic is the only player to show up on the injury report for the Mavericks. However, after being listed as questionable heading into Game 2 due to three separate ailments, Doncic is considered probable to play on Wednesday, and his right knee sprain and left ankle soreness are no longer mentioned on the injury report, notes Mike Curtis of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).

Doncic’s thoracic contusion is now the only injury listed. As Tim MacMahon and Malika Andrews of ESPN reported on Tuesday, the All-NBA guard received a pain-killing injection to treat that issue prior to Game 2 and will likely get another injection ahead of Game 3.

Here are a few more Mavs notes as the team looks to begin erasing its 2-0 deficit:

  • Reserve guard Dante Exum has played just 16 minutes in the first two games of the Finals, but he knocked down his only shot of the series (a three-pointer) and has been a +11 in his limited minutes. Head coach Jason Kidd sounds open to using Exum a little more in Game 3, as Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com relays. “I thought that Exum did a great job in Game 2,” Kidd said. “We’ll see if we can get that combination out there a little more as a third ball-handler. He’s one of the few that has made a three in this series. We’re going to need that a little bit more from him.”
  • After referring to Jaylen Brown as the Celtics‘ best player on Saturday, Kidd insisted to Sam Amick of The Athletic that his comments weren’t meant to generate controversy and that he wasn’t trying his hand at gamesmanship. “It wasn’t mind games,” Kidd said. “But for whatever reason, everybody took it that way. … My whole thing was that, watching the Eastern Conference (playoffs), like, he has been (the Celtics’ best player). No one ever said I was wrong. … Like, I was just giving it from a point of view of watching. There wasn’t no mind games. I was just making an observation.” Kidd also pointed out that he and Brown share an alma mater (Cal), hinting that that connection might have factored into his stance, Amick adds.
  • Longtime Mavericks majority owner Mark Cuban, who sold a controlling stake in the franchise earlier this season, spoke to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com about the state of the NBA and the growing global popularity of the sport, among other topics. Cuban contended that the introduction of NIL deals in college basketball has actually made life easier for NBA teams. “It keeps kids in school longer, and, more importantly, they know how to manage their money,” he said.

Southwest Notes: Irving, Doncic, Rockets, Spurs, Ellis

Luka Doncic blamed himself after the Mavericks lost on Sunday to fall behind 2-0 to the Celtics in the NBA Finals, pointing to his eight turnovers and four missed free throws. However, Doncic had 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in that game, making 12-of-21 shots from the field. His backcourt mate Kyrie Irving scored just 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting and is now 13-of-37 from the floor in the series.

Ahead of Game 3, Irving said he let Doncic know that if anyone needs to step up and give the team more, it’s him, not Luka.

“It started with me just telling my hermano I got to play better for him, alongside him,” Irving said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “In order for us to accomplish our goal, we both have to be playing well and we both have to be doing the little things, doing whatever it takes to win. Easy conversation. But it started with me reaching out, just letting him know it’s my fault, taking accountability for not playing particularly well.”

Irving noted that he has come back from a 2-0 deficit in the Finals before (in 2016 with Cleveland) and hinted that the move to Dallas for Game 3 may help him break out of his slump.

“Being back in Boston, there’s such a level of desire that I have inside of me to play well,” Irving said. “Wanted to be there for my teammates. As a competitor, it’s frustrating. But I don’t want to let that seep in or spill over to any other decisions I have to make there as a player.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Prior to Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Doncic received a pain-killing injection to treat his thoracic contusion, according to Tim MacMahon and Malika Andrews of ESPN. The expectation is that the Mavericks star, who has also been dealing with a right knee sprain and left ankle soreness, will get another injection ahead of Game 3, sources tell ESPN. “I feel good,” Doncic told reporters on Tuesday when asked about his health. “I don’t want to get into any more details. But I feel good.”
  • In a YouTube video, cap expert Yossi Gozlan examines the Rockets‘ upcoming offseason decisions and their financial situation going forward, considering what they might do with rookie scale extension candidates Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green and outlining some hypothetical trade scenarios.
  • Former USC point guard Boogie Ellis worked out for the Spurs over the weekend, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Ellis is ranked 83rd overall on ESPN’s list of top-100 prospects, so he could be a target for the Spurs in the second round or as an undrafted free agent.

Mavericks Notes: Irving, Doncic, Washington, Celtics’ Talent

Kyrie Irving has pulled a disappearing act in the first two games of the Finals, Stefan Bondy of the New York Post writes.

The Mavericks guard has scored a total of 28 points on 13-for-37 shooting in the series after pouring in 30-plus points six times earlier in the postseason, Bondy notes.

“A lot of shots were hitting the back rim. That could piss you off as a competitor, but it’s all part of the game of basketball,” Irving said, adding, “A little disappointed in myself not being able to convert a lot more on my opportunities that I have in the lane. Obviously, I’m going against Jrue Holiday and Jaylen Brown a few times, but I feel like I have the upper edge on certain possessions where I’ve just got to convert. They are pushing me to my left hand a little bit more. I have to be aware of some of their adjustments, like I was in Game 1. … Offensively, I have to play better.”

We have more on the Mavs:

  • Despite posting a triple-double in Game 2, Luka Doncic put the blame on himself for the 105-98 loss, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Doncic committed eight turnovers and missed half of his eight free throws. “I think my turnovers and my missed free throws cost us the game,” Doncic said. Coach Jason Kidd disagreed with his superstar’s assessment. “He was really good (Sunday). Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get over the hump,” Kidd said. “I thought our defense was really, really good. We’ve just got to take care of the ball.”
  • While the West is generally considered the toughest of the two conferences, P.J. Washington says the Celtics are superior to any of the teams they’ve faced in the playoffs. “They’re just better,” he said, per Tim Cato of The Athletic. “At the end of the day, they are better than all the teams we’ve played. It’s the Finals, and we’ve just got to be better.”
  • Following along that theme, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes that of the seven best players in the series, all but two are playing for the Celtics. He concludes the only way Dallas can rally to win the series is if the Celtics beat themselves.

Luka Doncic Available For Game 2

6:02pm: As expected, Doncic will be available for Game 2 on Sunday, the Mavericks have confirmed (via Twitter).


3:42pm: All-NBA Mavericks guard Luka Doncic has seen his status downgraded to questionable for Sunday night’s Game 2 of the NBA Finals, per Brian Robb of MassLive.com.

He was previously considered probable to play through an ankle and knee injury, Robb reports. Now, Dallas’ best player is dealing with a thoracic contusion. Jared Weiss of The Athletic reports (Twitter link) that Doncic’s torso appeared to be bothering him during team workouts on Saturday.

However, Marc Stein tweets that sources inform him the 6’7″ superstar plans to play through the new ailment.

Even with a knee sprain Thursday, Doncic scored 30 points and pulled down 10 boards during the defeat, though he handed out just one assist. Through 18 healthy games in the playoffs thus far, the 25-year-old is averaging 28.8 points on a .440/.343/.791 shooting line, 9.7 rebounds, 8.4 assists, and 1.7 steals per night. Doncic is appearing in his first-ever Finals.

If Doncic is limited at all due to his health issues, the Mavericks would likely expand the roles of reserve guards Jaden Hardy, Josh Green and Dante Exum to bolster the club’s backcourt, while running more of their offense through eight-time All-Star guard Kyrie Irving.

The Celtics currently lead the series 1-0, following a dominant 107-89 blowout victory Thursday.