Donnie Nelson Before the Draft
Thirty minutes before the start of the draft, Donnie Nelson took the podium to talk down pretty much every thought that the Mavs were going to trade up from the 5th spot.
“We feel real confident where we’re at and that’s probably how it’ll play out”
One of the biggest debates before every draft is draft for ‘Fit’ versus drafting for ‘Need’ and Nelson offered up the Mavs answer to that question as well.
“We’re conventionally one of those teams that grab the talent and figure it out later.”
Before the press conference even began there were rumors and reports that the Mavs were in talks with the Hawks to trade up to the 3rd spot. The deal was centered around the expiring contract of Wes Matthews and Kent Bazemore’s contract that has another two years and over $37 million remaining on it. When asked about financial flexibility going forward Nelson left the option open to take on more money in our to gain assets.
“It’s a factor but it’s not going to prevent us from acquiring the best young players. The emphasis is again on getting young players.”
Then on the hot topic of Michael Porter Jr., Nelson reassured everyone how they feel about Porter Jr. (sort of).
“We’ve done our homework and we’re good as far as comfortability is concerned.”
Rick Carlisle after picking Luka Doncic
Then the draft began and the Mavericks were on the phone with the Hawks until they finalized a deal to swap first round picks. After the pick was made, Rick Carlisle came and spoke to the media about the newest Maverick, Luka Doncic.
“This deal that we got done was done during the first pick”
“Luka Doncic was the guy that we targeted in this draft...we believe he’s a franchise foundational piece.”
“I’m not sure what [Luka Doncic’s] position is... I think his position is on the floor.”
“He’s the kind of player that can play with virtually anyone. He’s a great shooter which will really help Dennis.”
“Doncic has terrific size. Playmaking ability. He can score. He’s a joyful passer. He plays with a pass first view of the game. Guys like that are a blast to play with.”
“I believe he’s going to be a deceptively good athlete.”
In a deja vu moment Carlisle said he “would project [Doncic] as a starter right now” which is the exact phrase he used last year when Dennis Smith Jr. was drafted.
Then Carlisle was asked about the trade that sent a protected future first round pick to Atlanta.
“First draft picks are of very little interest to me. We need to take this group and move forward.”
The pick is Top 5 protected for next year’s draft but Carlisle had very little interest in the specifics when he was asked about the “extent of the protections on the 2019 pick.”
“To the extent that I don’t really care about it.”
Since the Mavs had the good fortune to take Doncic they did not select a big man like Mo Bamba and Jaren Jackson Jr. a move that was so expected that a reporter asked Carlisle about it, “a lot of people think the Mavs we’re going to take a big man, how would you address those people?”
“July 1st is right around the corner, bro.”
Yes, Rick Carlisle said the word “bro”.
Doncic jumped on a conference call with the media and discussed his predraft run-ins with the Mavs, what Dirk Nowitzki means to him, and how he sees himself as an NBA player.
On his experience with the Mavs predraft:
“Amazing. They were really nice to me. I’m really happy to be with them and be part of the Dallas family.”
On how he views Dirk:
“Dirk is amazing. He’s a legend. A great leader and I’m just really happy to be part of his career.”
On what position he sees himself playing:
“I can play a lot of positions. I can play 1-4. Whatever the coach needs.”
On Dennis Smith Jr.:
“He’s a really really good player. I’ve been watching him a lot. I’m looking forward to playing with him.”
On if he and Smith Jr. can play together:
“Yeah. I think we can play together. Together we can play and we can be a very good pair. “
On playing in Summer Leauge:
“I think I’m going to play something”
Rick Carlisle on Jalen Brunson
“I never think you can have too many playmakers on a team.”
“When we were in Chicago we asked [Brunson] what he would do to earn minutes with Dennis at point guard and he said he would push Dennis harder everyday.”
“My sense from following this kid’s career...he’s a guy that has been underestimated many times. And has a track record of proving people wrong.”
“This kid has basically been a coach on the floor for Jay Wright. We had a 35 min interview with him and some of these end early but this one went all the way until the end.”
“One thing you notice right away on Jalen Brunson is he did a lot of posting up...he was very effective. That just shows a lot of resourcefulness.”
Donnie Nelson Post Draft
“I’m ready for drink and bed.”
“There’s deals that happen pre, there’s deals that happen on the clock, and there’s deals that happen after...We were really happy at five, five we really ready to draft and go home. Then some opportunities came up and the price of poker so to speak got in line and we pulled the trigger.”
“We really couldn’t be more excited about Luka. He’s a 6’7” guy that can make big shots, he’s got the ability to get in the paint, he loves to pass, that’s his number 1 thing, he loves to pas the basketball. To have a rangy guy at his size, the way that the league is going right now is a real asset to us. He fits terrifically with our current roster set up. He’s going to fit really really well. We’re very blessed that we were able to acquire his services.”
When asked where Doncic was on the Mavs big board Nelson wasn’t about to just give the number, but he did answer the question. “He was very very very high up there, very, did I say very?”
Another thing Nelson refused to do was to heap too much praise, pile on comparisons, or hype up Doncic to an unhealthy level because of his experiences in the past:
“Here’s the thing, I’m not going to make the same mistake we made 20 years ago because he is an 18 year old kid that is going to have his rear end handed to him. He is going to go against the elite of the elite. Not only outside our walls, but in our training camp. He’s got his work cut out. There’s a whole different level from where he’s played to where he’s about to play. But he absolutely has the right stuff. He’s fearless. He makes his teammates better. Work ethic is great. He’s got all the right stuff to be a very very special player.”
Since Cynthia Marshall was hired as the Mavs’ new CEO there hasn’t been much talk publicly about the Mavs harassment scandal from the members of the basketball side of the organization. But when Dallas Morning News reporter Eddie Sefko had a hard time getting out a question Nelson cracked a dry humored joke that received a good caught off guard laugh from the media.
Sefko: “You’ve said before you’ve kind of laid your manhood on the line for...”
Nelson: “I’m not sure we can say that anymore.”
Sefko finished his question by asking, “How far up on the confidence train are you with Luka?” Donnie responded:
“Look at the guys across the board that have that elite status. Those are guys that make their teammates better. He’s got the ability to do that at small forward, 2, 1 that’s a very coveted and special skill set. That being said, the first thing Rick is going to tell him when he gets here is going to be defense, defense, defense. And that’s going to be his priority here because it’s a whole new ball of wax over here. Like I said if you look at his achievements across the board whether it’s youth, national team, Spain, it’s very rare air. It’s special stuff.”
It’s an exciting time to be a Dallas Mavericks fan.