The Dallas Mavericks had a wild ride this season, stumbling out of the gates due to a variety of absences due to injuries and COVID-19 protocols before hitting their stride late to earn the 5-seed in the West. In the playoffs, they took the first two games off the Clippers in L.A., but weren’t able to finish the job, losing in seven games and entering an offseason with questions abound about how they move forward and what changes are needed to a roster that couldn’t keep up with its star to get across the finish line in the series.
As soon as Game 7 ended, discussions began about who was at fault for their collapse. Luka Doncic was sensational in the series, but the toll of carrying the offense was evident in fourth quarters when his production waned and the rest of the Mavs struggled to pick up the slack around him. Kristaps Porzingis was a focal point as he was quiet in the series and failed to produce at the secondary star level the Mavs expected him to fill. The center rotation and inconsistent shooting on the wing also came into focus, as the roster is being dissected every which way to figure out why it can’t meet the expectations of their young star.
On Monday, a story from The Athletic dove into organizational dysfunction that the Mavs are dealing with beyond questions of the roster, centered on former pro gambler turned executive Haralabos Voulgaris, who has reportedly gained immense power within the organization, while creating tensions with others in the front office and even being a source of Doncic’s frustrations with the team. It was quite the account of an organization dealing with power struggles at the top and a star who has grown frustrated with some of Voulgaris’ input in team decisions — it was reported he goes so far as to dictate rotations and lineups at times.
Not long after the story began circulating, Mavs owner Mark Cuban — who it should be noted is quoted in the story — called it “total bullsh*t” on Twitter.
This is, of course, what you would expect Cuban to say. He’s not going to happily confirm that his organization has rampant dysfunction and much of the story focuses on Voulgaris’ relationship with Cuban and how he’s gained favor from the Dallas owner. It is a bit funny that a story that quotes Cuban on the record pushing back on its claims would get called “total bullsh*t” by that same person, but it is what he effectively has to say.
As with most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Voulgaris is not some omnipresent figure who is the soul reason for every mistake the Mavs have made in recent years, as the sources for the story seem to paint — and it’s not hard to figure out who are likely the main sources for that. On the other hand, his presence clearly is creating tensions if this story is even coming out from disgruntled members of the organization who seemed more than happy to pile on someone they see as over stepping their role as an analytics expert. In any case, it certainly creates some great fodder for conversation and sets the tone for what could be a wild offseason in Dallas.