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.