Neither the Miami Heat nor the Dallas Mavericks were able to move past the first round of the 2020-21 NBA Playoffs, but fans are already hyped to see what each franchise will do to rebuild this summer.
While there’s no questioning Miami will make all restructuring plans around the core All-Star duo that is Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that the Maverick would do the same when it comes to All-Star Luka Doncic.
But the disparaging reports about Doncic’s tense relationship with a few members of the Mavericks’ front office have put doubt in the assumption that the 22-year-old would remain in Dallas for the foreseeable future, and rumors started swirling on Twitter that his fellow Slovenian buddy, Goran Dragic, could lure him to Miami.
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One man tweeted, “In a heartbeat. Luka to the HEAT is Goran Dragic’s last gift to Miami.” Other online users believe it will be more of a long game to get Doncic to Miami. Heat fans suggest Pat Riley somehow plants Dragic in Dallas, where he can take his time luring Doncic to South Beach.
If anyone on the Heat’s current roster is going to have sway in a possible deal to bring Doncic to Miami, it would be The Dragon. The two share the same agent. However, this remains a highly implausible situation as it’s difficult to imagine the former Rookie of the Year turning down a $200 super-max extension.
The “chess game” approach is even less believable because time is not on Dragic’s side. At age 35, if he wants to convince the future MVP to play alongside him in Miami, such a conversation would have to happen now.
Conflicting Reports Concerning Doncic’s Relationship With the Mavericks Continue to Swirl
After the Mavericks were eliminated from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Clippers on June 7, Doncic made it clear that he would sign what’s expected to be a five-year $200 million contract extension. A week later, however, The Athletic reported on a rift between Doncic and Haralabos Voulgaris, a former sports gambler hired by Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban in 2018 to be the franchise’s director of quantitative research and development.
While Cuban denounced any truth to The Athletic’s report, on June 16, the Mavericks’ announced they were parting ways with the team’s general manager of 24 years, Donnie Nelson.
Following the announcement of Nelson’s release, NBA reporter Mark J.Spears appeared on ESPN’s The Jump and gave a grim report on Doncic’s status in Dallas:
Donnie was fired, let’s just be real. He’s been there since 1988… and I’ve heard one guy that’s really upset about it is a guy you don’t want upset about it: Luka Doncic. They were really close.
Doncic’s in Slovenia, working out with the Slovenian national team getting prepared for the Olympics, and he will have a statement tomorrow at a press conference. I’m not sure what he’s going to say, but apparently, he’s going to make a statement about Donnie’s firing tomorrow. I’m also being told, in terms of the $200 million extension, how are talks going? People close to him are saying ‘What talks?’ There’s no talks right now.
However, Dallas Morning News’ Brad Townsend shared more details on the aforementioned press conference and refuted much of Spears’ comments.
Townsend tweeted, “Doncic is in fact expected to speak about Nelson’s departure tomorrow during an availability with reporters in Slovenia as he and Team Slovenia prepare for an Olympic qualifying tournament. But to say Doncic is upset with the Mavericks right now is not accurate.”
Dragic Has Known Doncic Since He was a Child, Played Basketball With His Dad
As for why fans are pinning their hopes on Dragic being a convincing recruiter for Doncic, it’s because the two Slovenian stars have a mentor/mentee relationship that goes back decades.
In February 2020, Dragic spoke of their special relationship. “I knew Luka when he was 5 or 6. I played with his dad. He was the ballboy. He’s special. I’m really impressed. I knew what he could achieve, but not so quickly. He’s playing at an MVP level. It’s always nice to see Luka and talk smack.”
Even before Doncic was drafted into the NBA, Dragic spoke incredibly highly of the young prodigy. “He’s a born winner,” Dragic said. “No, I’m not kidding, he already has a lot of trophies, and medals. I’m happy for him. Mark my words, he’s going to be one of the best in the whole world.”