Luka Dončić has arrived, make no mistake about it. A few days ago, this was affirmed by respected media members as Luka was officially named to the All-NBA First Team alongside Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and NBA MVP Nikola Jokić. We have all been aware of potential greatness in Luka, but this recognition does not only put him along with the game’s elite in just his third year, but it also opens the door for Dončić to sign the supermax extension straight out of his rookie contract which for Luka would amount $201.5 million over 5 years.
Now, this is a no-brainer if you are the Mavs, but a contract extension involves both parties agreeing to sign on the dotted line. The Mavs certainly want to keep the young star, but the question is: does Luka believe that he can compete for championships with the pieces that the Dallas Mavericks can put around him?
The league is certainly watching the situation closely as the opportunity to acquire Doncic can single-handedly change the fortunes of a franchise. Dallas, on the other hand, is looking to do everything possible to keep the young star happy. According to Donnie Nelson, the man credited for the Mavericks move up in the Draft to get Luka, doing so might not be the most essential thing to move the organization forward.
“Here’s a guy who thinks he can win every possession of every game. His numbers are unique. I think part of his maturity is again knowing how to balance all those kill shots with involving his teammates at the right time.” - Donnie Nelson, Former General Manager, Dallas Mavericks
Donnie Nelson, former GM of the Dallas Mavericks, via Callie Caplan
It is worth noting that Donnie Nelson is, as of today, no longer with the Mavs in what was reported as the parties agreeing to mutually part ways. If this was not problematic enough, conflicting reports are coming out regarding Luka’s feelings on the matter, as it is unclear whether he is delighted or frustrated by the decision. However, this may give us some perspective on how the Mavs might approach this off-season from the standpoint of personnel decisions.
Nelson’s statement may shed light on the reason for the feelings of co-star Kristaps Porzingis, who stated he often felt like an afterthought instead of a co-star. KP also faced most of the criticism for the Mavs’ first-round exit, with pundits stating that he did not live up to expectations and failed to provide the help that Dončić needed to pull off a win.
Perhaps for the Mavs, this is more than just unnecessary drama, but significant information in plotting their roster moves for the next few years. Keeping Luka happy means doing whatever it takes to build a winning team, but there are many ways to skin a cat. Luka is a generational talent, but much like similar talents in past years, it seems as if Luka might need a veteran to show him the ways of winning in the NBA. So maybe it is not simply about getting Luka more help on the court, but possibly prioritizing him receiving guidance and lessons in leadership off of it.
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