Luka Doncic has a rift with a Mavs employee who won millions as a gambler and now acts as a shadow GM, report says
- The Athletic reported that the former gambler Haralabos Voulgaris has a large influence on the Mavs.
- Voulgaris has drawn the ire of Luka Doncic, who has snapped at Voulgaris before, the report said.
- There's concern within the Mavs that Doncic could grow tired of the front office, the report said.
There is minor tension brewing between Luka Doncic and some in the Dallas Mavericks front office that could have long-term effects on the team, The Athletic's Tim Cato and Sam Amick reported.
Cato and Amick said that one of the bigger rifts is between Doncic and Haralabos Voulgaris, a gambler turned Mavs executive.
Voulgaris, whose official title is director of quantitative research and development, rose to fame because of his great success gambling. A 2013 ESPN feature on Voulgaris said he made millions gambling on the NBA, developing models that gave him an edge.
In 2009, Voulgaris consulted for an unnamed NBA franchise. He later became a fixture of the NBA world as a popular user on Twitter and a semiregular guest on Bill Simmons' podcast.
Voulgaris told ESPN that studying the NBA and its trends led him to believe that he could be more successful at building a team than most GMs.
The Mavs hired him in 2018.
"We had two general managers," a source told The Athletic. Voulgaris' influence confused other teams about who was making decisions with the Mavs, which has employed Donnie Nelson as GM since 2005, the report said.
It's unclear the exact source of Doncic's frustration with Voulgaris, but the two have had dustups.
The Athletic reported that Doncic was annoyed this season when he saw Voulgaris leave a game late in the fourth quarter, as the Mavs attempted to make a comeback (they lost). Doncic later said in the locker room that he viewed it as Voulgaris quitting on the team, the report said.
Doncic also snapped at Voulgaris during a game in February, saying, "Don't f---ing tell me to calm down," after Voulgaris made a symbolic, downward motion with his hands, the report said.
Doncic is eligible for a five-year, $200 million extension this offseason and indicated to reporters that he planned to sign it.
But The Athletic reported that there is concern that the Mavs' postseason failures (they've been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in back-to-back years) and dysfunction in the front office could wear on Doncic.
Though Voulgaris' contract with the team is set to expire this offseason, The Athletic reported that Voulgaris is believed to have a firm supporter in Mark Cuban, the team's owner.
Cuban on Monday tweeted that The Athletic's report was "total bulls---."
-Mark Cuban (@mcuban) June 14, 2021
Doncic is largely on good terms with the Mavs, The Athletic said, but members of the franchise are concerned that things could trend in the wrong direction without big changes.
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