Luka Doncic has had an incredibly busy off-season to date. After falling to the Golden State Warriors in five games, Doncic left the United States in order to go back to Slovenia to prepare for the two World Cup qualifying games against Croatia and Sweden. He’s since spent a lot of time at Quai 54, an event in Paris calling itself the world’s largest streetball tournament.
He’s also spent a fair amount of time promoting Team Jordan and spending some time with fellow rising superstar and division rival Zion Williamson.
Luka Doncic gave exclusive interview Luka Doncic gave with MARCA recently, where he had some comments that when they’re translated from Spanish to English, lit up corners of the Mavericks social media world.
Specifically, these two sections of a two-plus minute long interview, raised the hackles of some. First, after asking about the departure of Jalen Brunson and the arrival of JaVale McGee, Doncic’s translated response is interesting: “Well, the market has but just started and I expect the bosses of Dallas have more options to sign. Let’s see what they do.”
Second, the interviewer asked if Doncic thinks he can win a championship in Dallas or would he be willing to play elsewhere. His translated response was straight forward enough: “I do not plan on changing my objective stay with and win in Dallas. Although of course, in future nothing is known, but my idea and I hope to accomplish win in Dallas.”
Doncic goes on to respond to a lot of questions over the course of the interview and it’s worth reading in full. As to his first statement about free agency just beginning, that’s largely not accurate. Free agency is all but over and while perhaps the Mavericks are waiting for the fallout from the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trade requests, Dallas doesn’t have much it can do at the moment. And perhaps there’s credence to the idea that in the long term the Mavericks could be better moving on from Jalen Brunson, in the short term they’re not a better team.
His second response touches on one of two things, depending on your outlook as a fan. The optimist reads that Doncic is committed to Dallas and wants to win here. The pessimist sees the elephant in the room that Josh Bowe and I have attempted to address for years: team building around a generational superstar is hard, the path to getting better gets more narrow as expectations increase, and so few of the Dallas roster moves since drafting Doncic and Brunson in 2018 have panned out.
As he sets out on the first year of his five year contract extension (four years with a player option, if we’re being specific), Doncic’s long term future will only become a louder topic of conversation, perhaps not in Dallas, but in the national media. The question of Doncic’s commitment to Dallas is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy that can be held off by the Mavericks improving and being consistent NBA title contenders.
Dallas made a massive step in 2022 by making it all the way to the Western Conference Finals. The off-season to date is a reminder of just how difficult becoming and staying a contender actually is, and Doncic’s comments, even in the middle of a light interview, should serve as a reminder that the work of a front office blessed with a generational talent is never done.