Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban keeps a close eye on what is reported about his team in the media. So it wasn't entirely surprising that he had a quick and succinct response to an article questioning superstar Luka Doncic's future with the team.
What is Cuban calling 'Total bulls***'?
The article Cuban smacked down appeared Monday on The Athletic. It outlines the influence that sports gambler-turned-Mavs exec Haralabos Voulgaris has reportedly had on the team. Hired in 2018, Voulgaris' official title is director of quantitative research and development, but according to The Athletic, he does so much more than that.
Multiple league and team sources tell The Athletic that Voulgaris has been the most influential voice within the Mavericks front office since joining the team, either initiating or approving virtually every transaction made over the past two seasons. Those same sources add that Voulgaris has frequently gone as far as scripting the starting lineups and rotations for longtime head coach Rick Carlisle.
Voulgaris' responsibilities and influence within the Mavs' front office is a problem on its own — especially since The Athletic reported that he had considerable input on the team's first two 2020 draft picks while the scouting department did not — but the more pressing issue is his relationship with Doncic.
According to The Athletic, Doncic does not like Voulgaris, and authors Tim Cato and Sam Amick gave two specific examples of that. One features Voulgaris leaving a game the Mavs were losing with 45 seconds left, an act that Doncic reportedly considered to be quitting on the team. The other has Voulgaris reportedly making a "calm down" gesture from his courtside seat after Doncic turned over the ball, which apparently spurred Doncic to snap back directly, yelling at him from the court. Voulgaris reportedly said later that the motion was meant for the entire team and not specifically for Doncic.
Voulgaris part of a larger problem
According to Cato and Amick, Cuban's trust of Voulgaris is representative of a larger problem.
Those concerns mostly center on Cuban and the decisions he makes regarding who he trusts and imbues with power. Sometimes, it’s examples like Voulgaris, a sports gambler with no league experience being given near total control of the team’s roster. Other times, it’s the relationships he doesn’t sever: The Mavericks’ front office has come to be known around the league for its long-existing power structure that, Voulgaris aside, has barely changed.
If you combine that with the Mavs' inability to advance past the first round of the playoffs and the trouble they've had building the right team around Doncic, multiple team sources told Cato and Amick that they fear Doncic's relationship with the team could become a significant problem in the future.
Of course, we already know Cuban's response to all this: "Total bulls***."
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