With just one regular season game left, the Dallas Mavericks have officially been eliminated from playoff contention. Just one year removed from making a run to the Western Conference Finals, they have failed to even quality for the Play-In Tournament.
They were officially eliminated from contention on Friday night after losing to the Chicago Bulls. Luka Doncic only played the first quarter but came out in the second for a couple of plays. After the game, head coach Jason Kidd explained this decision.
“[We wanted] to get him an ovation coming out for what he’s done this year for this franchise,” Kidd said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “Ending of his normal run, he wouldn’t get the standing O. So, to be able to get him in the post, get him to score, and then for him to take a foul to come out so that people could recognize him coming out, that was the thought behind all that as we started. We told him before the game that he was going to go the whole first, and then [we would] figure out a way to get [him] a standing O and respect for what [he’s] done for this organization this year.”
Doncic was one of the only main players to play against the Bulls. Guys like Kyrie Irving, Josh Green, and Christian Wood were all out.
The Slovenian superstar put up some great stats in his limited minutes on what was ‘I Love Slovenia Night,’ an occasion to honor Doncic’s home country. He co-led the team in scoring despite playing just a quarter. Doncic finished the night with 13 points, five rebounds, and three assists on 4-of-11 shooting from the field and 0-of-5 shooting from behind the three-point line.
Mavericks Under NBA Investigation
If the fact that Dallas has officially missed the playoffs isn’t enough bad news, the team is also under investigation by the NBA. According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the NBA is launching an investigation into Dallas’ actions prior to the game that involved sitting multiple key players.
“NBA spokesman Mike Bass: ‘The NBA commenced an investigation today into the facts and circumstances surrounding the Dallas Mavericks’ roster decisions and game conduct with respect to last night’s Chicago Bulls-Mavericks game, including the motivations behind those actions,’” MacMahon tweeted.
Mavericks Worried About Luka Doncic’s Future
And as if things couldn’t get any worse, there is now reportedly a fear that Doncic could request a trade from the Mavericks as soon as the summer of 2024.
“Team sources have acknowledged to ESPN that fear exists that Doncic, who publicly and privately expressed extreme frustration this season, could consider requesting a trade as soon as the summer of 2024 if Dallas doesn’t make significant progress by then,” MacMahon wrote.
The rumblings follow Doncic’s recent comments noting his frustrations with the team’s play this season.
“It’s really frustrating,” Doncic said via the Fanatics YouTube channel after a Dallas loss to the Charlotte Hornets. “I think you can see it with me on the court. Sometimes, I don’t feel it’s me. Just being out there. I used to have [a lot of] fun. Smiling on the court. But it’s just been so frustrating. For a lot of reasons, not just basketball.”