Mavericks Had Preset Plan for Luka Doncic Ahead of Disastrous Season: Report

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks.

Getty Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks.

The 2022-23 season was not what the Dallas Mavericks envisioned it to be.

Rewind back to last postseason, and the Mavericks were making a miracle run that culminated in a Western Conference Finals birth. While they weren’t able to get things done against the Golden State Warriors, it was still their most successful season with Luka Doncic at the helm.

But just a few weeks later, they lost Jalen Brunson in free agency, and the entire scope of their future was changed. Immediately, eyes turned to Doncic, and according to Tim Cato of The Athletic, the Mavericks planned to load manage Doncic from the jump.

“It was a concern Dallas had before the season even began, and it had been decided, team sources said, that Dončić would enter the season with a load management plan after a short summer caused by the extended postseason run and his extensive national team duties for Slovenia,” Cato wrote on May 1, 2023. “But Dallas quickly realized that the team relied on him to win more than it had imagined.”

Managing Doncic’s minutes is no easy task considering how heliocentric the Mavericks’ offense is. Doncic runs everything for Dallas, and without Brunson to help carry the load while he’s off the floor, they were left scrambling for offensive options.

At the trade deadline, they added Kyrie Irving to the mix, but by that point, it was too late. Dallas’ initial plan to load manage Doncic flopped as he played the most minutes of his career, tallying 36.2 per game. He also tied the mark for the second-most appearances in a season with 66 games played.

By years end, the Mavericks failed to even qualify for the Play-In Tournament. It was a complete and utter failure of a season.

Mavericks’ Plan Annoyed Luka Doncic & Kyrie Irving

While the Mavericks’ need for Doncic to be on the court hurt their plan to manage his minutes, Doncic’s competitive nature likely also didn’t help with that idea.

Doncic is extremely driven and wants to win at all times, and the same can be said for Irving. So, when Dallas decided late in the season that they wanted to start tanking, those two weren’t pleased. They even refused to sit out games, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

“The tanking was actually supposed to begin sooner,” O’Connor said during an appearance on FanDuel TV. “My sources say that in late March, Dallas coaches met with players to discuss a plan for Markieff Morris and JaVale McGee to play heavier minutes. That is when the tanking was supposed to begin but Luka and especially Kyrie were agitated that the team was waving the white flag and both refused to sit.”

Lakers Not Interested in Mavericks’ Kyrie Irving

In other news, as the offseason draws on, the biggest question in Mavericks-land surrounds Irving’s future with the team. Luckily for Dallas, according to Cato, the Los Angeles Lakers are not interested in pursuing Irving.

“No matter how close Irving might be to [LeBron] James, the Lakers are disinterested in pursuing him in free agency, say league sources, who like all unnamed sources in this article were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly,” Cato reported. “To acquire him would require jettisoning several deadline acquisitions who have helped revitalize their season and land them in a second-round series against the Golden State Warriors.”

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