Editor’s note: Iztok did his best to translate Luka’s comments to the Slovenian press which were obviously all in Slovenian.
Luka Dončić spoke to the media in Slovenia for the first time since the news that Donnie Nelson is not part of the Dallas Mavericks’ front office anymore.
Marc Stein asked Dončić about Donnie Nelson’s Mavericks exit so let’s address this first.
Luka Doncic, from Slovenia with his national team, on Donnie Nelson's Mavericks exit:— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 17, 2021
"It was kind of tough to me. I really like Donnie. I know him since I was a kid and he was the one that drafted me. It was tough for me seeing that, but I'm not the one making decisions there."
There was a lot of interpretation of how tough the Nelson departure was for Dončić so we are including the audio of the last part of the press conference where Dončić talked to Stein.
Dončić answered all questions in his typical short-form manner, and it doesn’t seem like the question about Donnie Nelson changed Dončić’s spirits much.
Apart from the last part of the presser where he spoke to Marc Stein, Dončić spoke to Slovenian media for almost fifteen minutes.
Here are some highlights that might interest the Mavericks fans.
On Goran Dragčić and leadership
Goran Dragić was a player many fans wanted to see in the Mavericks uniform. Based on the recent reports, there is a possibility that the proposed trade for Dragić in the 2019 offseason broke down because of the disfunction in the Mavericks’ front office. Here is what Dončić said about Dragić and his role on the Slovenian National team.
Most of the guys that are here have grown up (since the last time they played together). But we have one minus, we don’t have Goran. That’s a big minus. But I think Goran helped all of us that year, he amazed us with his play, with his leadership.
How did his role change, compared to his last run with the Slovenian National Team?
My role is different. But we have other leaders as well. My role is different because there is no Goran. This is something I have to work on. To be a better leader.
His condition and communication with the Mavericks
One thing that most Mavericks fans want to know is how tired is Dončić after a long season and the Playoffs.
I’m OK. I had one week off, without practice, not doing anything. So, I’m in a way still warming up. But this does’t matter. I’ll be ready for the qualification tournament.
Dončić was asked how closely the Mavericks monitor his progress while he is away in Europe.
They monitor it all the time. Currently, I don’t have any commitments with the Mavericks, but I get text from them all the time.
Mavericks’ fans probably wonder who is sending the texts with the turmoil in the front office.
From everybody. A lot of them (laughs).
Comparing European and NBA basketball
Another thing that was a hot topic in the off-season among the Mavericks fans was Dončić’s play, more specifically how he involved his teammates in the Playoffs. Donnie Nelson highlighted this area as an area where Dončić needs to improve. We have seen a lot of teams reverting to isolation basketball in the Playoffs, relying on the stars to make plays. This is how Dončić views the comparison between European basketball and NBA basketball is interesting.
First I need to remember the rules. I forgot them a bit (laughs). But European basketball is more of a team basketball, there is more tactics.
His accomplishment and stardom
When asked about what he achieved in the NBA so far, Dončić repeated what he usually tells the media in Dallas. His goal is to win an NBA title.
I look at my accomplishments in a way that I didn’t accomplish anything yet. My goal is NBA title. There is a long road towards that. But that’s my goal.
Dončić was recently selected to all-NBA first team. He talked about how much that means to him for the first time.
It means a lot. When I was a kid I only dreamed to play in the NBA. To be selected twice to first team all-NBA it’s unbelievable to me.
Dončić also talked about how he perceives his global stardom.
There are two sides to it. It’s tough but it’s also great. There are a lot of commitments, but at the end of the day when you see how kids look up to you, I remember how it was when I was a little kid, so I always try to take a photo with them, and be there for them.
We’ll follow Dončić’s play with the Slovenian National Team in the future, so stay tuned for more news.
Here’s our episode of the Mavs Moneyball Podcast discussing the Dallas Mavericks moving on from Donnie Nelson. Search Mavs Moneyball Podcast on your favorite app to find the episode, click the link, or press play in the player below.