Donnie Nelson’s exit from the Dallas Mavericks a case of curious timing | Opinion

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The timing is just this side of horrific and all but unintentionally confirms a damning report about the Dallas Mavericks’ front office.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Dallas Mavericks announced that long-time president of basketball operations and general manager Donnie Nelson is leaving the team.

The press release included a nice statement from Mavs owner Mark Cuban, but not a word from Donnie.

Nelson was the GM of the Mavs when they won their first NBA title in 2011.

Nelson has been with the franchise since 1998, and was a big reason why the team acquired Luka Doncic in the 2018 NBA Draft.

The trio of Cuban, Donnie Nelson and head coach Rick Carlisle has led the Mavericks since Carlisle came here in 2008.

However, on Monday an extensive report written by Tim Cato and Sam Amick for The Athletic said that the Mavs front office is a bit of a mess since Cuban hired a well-known sports gambler named Haralabos Voulgaris.

Voulgaris’ title with the Mavs is “Dir. of Quantitative Research & Development.”

The report suggested that Voulgaris was essentially a “shadow GM,” who had a say in the draft, player acquisition and even lineup changes.

People familiar with the Mavs said they thought the report was mostly exaggerated, but they thought Voulgaris likely had some input on the draft and player evaluation. They also had a hard time envisioning any scenario where Carlisle was changing a starting lineup based on Voulgaris.

Carlisle will take input from anything or anyone, but he’s going to do what he feels is best.

Cuban took to Twitter and vehemently dismissed the report by writing, “Total bulls---.”

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Most pro sports teams these days hire these people whose forte is to dive into numbers to come up with new theories and alternatives to develop a player and how to win a game.

Typically, this breed of sports evaluator clashes with the more conventional model, of which Donnie Nelson fits that mold.

Cuban’s statement in the press release said: “I just want to thank Donnie for his 24 years of service to this organization. Donnie has been instrumental to our success and helped bring a championship to Dallas. His hard work, creativity and vision made him a pioneer. Donnie will always be a part of the Mavs family and I wish him all the best.”

Nelson, who is the son of the former Dallas Mavericks and long time NBA head coach Don Nelson, is only 58.

While Donnie Nelson has made enough money to support many nice retirements, it’s hard to see him leaving pro sports.

While his exit from the team may be a result of a desire simply for a change, the timing will only fuel NBA conspiracy theorists.