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Quote board: Mavericks GM Nico Harrison reflects on ‘disappointing’ season

“When you don’t reach your goals, everybody has to take a step back and really do soul searching.”

Memphis Grizzlies v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

After missing the playoffs, Dallas Mavericks second-year general manager Nico Harrison addressed his concerns about the team and what he envisions for the future during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. Below are some excerpts of his remarks.

Here is the video of the entire press conference:

(On summarizing the disappointment of the season...)

I mean, honestly, the word you used is disappointing. I mean, it’s not what we expected. It’s not what we envisioned. And you know, I think you used the perfect word disappointing.

(On his reaction to the NBA tanking investigation and its process...)

I don’t know much. I think it’s a great question, but I really can’t — I mean, there’s not really much I can comment on an ongoing investigation. I think eventually there’ll be a resolution, and then we’ll be able to comment.

(On how the organization decision came to the decision to tank...)

Like I said it’s a really, it’s a great question. I would love to dive super deep into it with you guys, but it’s an active investigation. So, I can’t comment on it. And again, eventually there’s gonna be a resolution and then at that point we’ll be able to dive into it.

(On his conversations with Kyrie Irving about free agency and being able to re-sign him...)

Yeah, we did exit interviews with with all the players. We did Kyrie yesterday and had a great conversation. You know, I think the things that he said along the way about how he feels here, how he feels appreciated, how he feels accepted, and allowed to be himself — I think those are the things that he’s said kind of consistently. And that’s what gives me the optimism that he wants to be here.

(On what the potential contract the Mavericks can offer Irving...)

You know what, when you talk about like money and years, I don’t think that’s fair to talk about that because that’s gonna be part of the negotiation when we’re allowed to actually do it. But Kyrie’s definitely somebody that we want here, and we’re excited about the potential of him being here.

(On the Mavericks’ record with Irving and Luka Doncic...)

That’s a another great question. You know, I think the two work together. I think Luka and Ky work together. I think I’ve said this several times to most of you. I think when you have that talented of a player and two talented players, I think they work together. I really think it’s the players around them. I think the players around them kind of knowing their role with having those two guys out on the floor at the same time I think that’s the thing that we need to work on.

(On the progress he saw from Jaden Hardy...)

Oh my goodness. Amazing, you know? Thirty-seventh pick, start out in the G League to where he ended the season. Like, just amazing. Like literally month to month you saw the guy progress. At the beginning of the month he learned to be a pro. The next month he learned he’s able to see passes that he didn’t see early on. The way he can score the ball pretty much at all three levels. The way he just attacks. He’s a special kid. What

(On the type of improvements he expects Hardy to make...)

This season? I think he’s gonna continue to grow. He’s a gym rat. I mean, literally if you go month to month and watch his progression, like you can almost see it like a bar graph. And I think he continues that path because he’s gonna be in the gym. That’s just the type of kid he is.

(On how he’s specifically suited to play on the team...)

Yeah, I think in the league you got to have talent and I think him and Luka, I think their styles are different and I think they can play off each other. But at the end of the day, if you don’t have talent, you can only go so far.

(On Mark Cuban taking blame for the season, how basketball changed, and how the team will make adjustments...)

I don’t know. I think you have to ask Mark that. I’m not really sure what Mark meant by that. And for me to even like, try to get into his head, I think I would be doing him a disservice.

(On Cuban saying he takes personal responsibility...)

You know, I think that’s what leadership does. In leadership you take responsibility. I mean, just like I’m out here in front of you guys to take responsibility for a year that wasn’t what we projected. So, I think that’s the part of leadership. You should take responsibility.

(On the job Jason Kidd did this year...)

Listen, Jason Kidd is our coach. You know, if you look at what we did last year, nobody asks like, ‘Hey, is Jason Kidd the coach?’ because we went to the Western Conference Finals. So, I think J-Kidd is the same coach that brought us to the Western Conference Finals. But when you don’t reach your goals, everybody has to be evaluated. I need to be evaluated, Jason Kidd, like we have to sit down and, ‘Hey, what could we have done better?’ And so, that’s the same thing that has to happen.

(On whether Kidd improved as a coach...)

It’s tough to say that he improved as a coach or wasn’t better, but you know, our record doesn’t show it. So, what we need to figure out is what we can do better.

(On Cuban’s comment that the team has to earn Doncic’s trust in order to keep him in Dallas...)

Well, I take his words for it. You know, [Doncic] says he wants to be here, he’s under contract. So I don’t go to sleep at night worried about, ‘Is Luka gonna be a Maverick?’ because he is a Maverick and he’s under contract. Obviously, if that changes then we’ll have to have to reevaluate it. But I think our job really to keep Luka happy if you will, is surrounding him by the right players to help him win. And I think Luka’s a talent that deserves that.

(On addressing the lack of interior defense...)

Yeah, I think for us going into off season, the two biggest things that we need to work on is defense period and then rebounding. So that’s gonna be addressed.

(On whether he’s concerned that he is saying the team has to address defense and rebounding for the second year in a row...)

I got to see the tape from last year. I don’t believe I said those exact words. Nah, it doesn’t because I think I think we tried to address it, but sometimes when you think you’re addressing it, but it just doesn’t work out. Again, one of the things, if you look at the difference between last year and this year we literally just didn’t — statistically we just didn’t play good defense, but last year we were much better. So, that’s why I don’t think I would’ve said defense last year, because we were, I think, a top seven or top 10 team defensively. So, that was actually actually good. Now, we didn’t block shots and we didn’t rebound well, but in terms of defense we were pretty good last year.

(On building a defensive roster around Doncic and Irving...)

Oh yeah, but I was just talking overall in general, like defense. I think this year it’s not about big or small, just defense overall. Like we weren’t very good this year. And so that’s gonna be a focus. We just have players that were committed to it. I think defense is not one person. I think it’s kind of a team thing. Defense and rebounding for sure, I think that’s important, but basketball IQ. When you have two guys at that level, you gotta have players that that can think the game and not just play it, because those guys are both high IQ players and they have both of them at the same time. I think you need surrounding players that have a IQ.

(On how Doncic can be better...)

Better? How can Luka be better? I think Luka can — I mean, one Luca’s an amazing player. I think that’s first and foremost. I think, probably play on both sides of the ball. And he’s 24 years old, I think he’s gonna continue to grow as a leader. I think he’s done a good job. I saw the interview with you the other day, the question you asked, and I think he’s shown leadership that way, and I think he’ll continue to grow that way.

(On whether he thought trading for Irving would spark the team like the trade deadline deal he made last season...)

Last year? Yeah, I didn’t know the difference. You know, if you look at last year’s trade that we made with Porzingis, we were rolling before the trade. And so once we made the trade, we just continued the roll. We just had more depth. We weren’t playing very well pretty much all year. We’ve been consistently inconsistent. So, I didn’t know if this would be like a magic pill. I don’t think I had like any visions of that, but I figured it couldn’t be worse than what it was. And I also looked at it as a long-term play, not a short-term play, you know? Getting this trade wasn’t for the three months.

(On how worried he is about keeping Doncic happy in Dallas...)

I don’t know what, keeping Luka happy here means. I mean, if you win, then I’m assuming he is gonna be happy. If we win and he’s not happy, then I wouldn’t know how to keep him happy. So, I think the goal is to win and if I’m assuming that works, it will work for me. <Laugh>

(On how Christian Wood performed...)

I thought Christian Wood was efficient. You know, I think that he made the most of the time, that he played offensively. He’s amazing. And I think in the minutes that he had, he is a really efficient scorer.

(On how the absences of certain players [Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie] affected the locker room culture...)

I think we have a lot of character guys in the locker room. You know, I think when you lose guys that have been around for a long time that’s obviously gonna affect that. But we had high character guys in the locker room this year, and I think we’ll continue to have high character guys. Do you

(On whether the locker room culture was as much of a strength as it was last season...)

You know, maybe it wasn’t as much of a strength, but I don’t think it was a negative.

(On who the leaders in the locker room are and who the young players look up to...)

Well, one Luka for sure. I mean, he is a leader. I’m just saying there’s levels of leadership. One of the things I always talk about myself is that people come to me and ask me like, ‘Hey, you’ve been a leader of massive amounts of people and teams. What do you do as a leader? What’s your thing?’ And I always say, ‘Well, my leadership style’s under construction because I’m always getting better.’ You and I might have a conversation and you tell me how you lead your team and something might be like, ‘Oh wow, that’s interesting, I’m gonna use that.’ And that’s what I mean by under construction. So, my point is Luka is a leader, but as he gets older he’s always gonna get better because he’s gonna learn more, he’s gonna hear things that I didn’t think about that. So definitely Luka’s a leader.

(On who is part of the leadership nucleus in the locker room and what players are adding to it...)

Yeah, I mean a lot of the nucleus is still here. Maxi [Kleber], he’s still here. Dwight’s [Powell] still here. Well, he’s a free agent. So, you just want me to talk about the guys who are under contract because my point is, if you look at last year, a lot of the guys are still here. Dwight, Maxi, Josh [Green], Reggie [Bullock]. So, we have a nucleus of guys that are that kind of form a leadership group, if you will. And then you bring in JaVale [McGee], who’s won three championships, and have him bring some leadership qualities. So yeah, leadership isn’t, isn’t an issue.

(On what type of player the Mavericks are looking for in the draft...)

Well the J in general, it’s gonna, you know, I I think it’ll be tough to evaluate right now because you don’t know who’s gonna stay in and who’s gonna put their name in, in terms of what type of player we’re gonna look for. You know, just like last year, if we get an opportunity, we’re gonna get the best available player.

(On how aggressive he will be in trade talks...)

I haven’t even thought about that. <Laugh>, That’s not true. <Laugh> You can come up with a better way. No, I think, I think once, once we get through, once we get through all the stuff with the NBA, after they’re gonna have the draft lottery might be May 15. Then after that then I think that’s a fair question.

(On looking back a year ago and what he would have done differently...)

That’s part of what I got to do this summer, is kind of look in the mirror and see what I could have done better

(On if leadership was onboard with trading for Wood, why he didn’t get more minutes...)

I mean that’s really more of a coaching question than me. I don’t dull out minutes. But just because you’re an efficient scorer, there’s more to the game than just that. So I think it’s important to, to note that.

(On the need to bring in a defender to replace Finney-Smith...)

Yeah, great question. One, I love Finney. I mean, beautiful spirit, amazing player. But we weren’t good defensively when we had him this year. We just weren’t. So, losing him obviously didn’t make us better, but we weren’t good defensively with him.

(On whether it’s better for Green to work with an outside trainer during the off-season...)

Oh yeah, so Josh definitely completely developed and our staff deserves a lot of credit for his development. I know the guy he works with in the summer, he’s great. But our staff definitely deserves a lot of credit for that as well as Jaden’s developed. And [Hardy] gonna play summer league. I think he might have mentioned it in his exit interview.

(On what is a reasonable goal for Jaden Hardy next year in terms of his role...)

An everyday player? I think that’s reasonable. A rotation player.

(On what is the job of a GM in the NBA these days...)

Constant racing to get as many arms as you can <laugh>? No honestly, I think it’s to try to put the best team together, to give the coaches and the players a chance to win.

(On what he would tell the fans who are frustrated the season...)

Yeah. First, I mean, to fans that are frustrated, they should be frustrated. Like, I’m frustrated. This year is not acceptable and so I feel this. I mean, nobody can be harder on myself than I am. You know, I take I take my job serious and wins and losses and not reaching our goals. And so I feel for them. And the only confidence I can give him is that we’re gonna evaluate everything and we’re not gonna be in this position again. And, and I’ve said this several times, when you don’t reach your goals, everybody needs to be evaluated, myself included. So, I don’t put myself above being evaluated when you don’t reach your goals.

(On his comfort level in his second year as GM and what he learned...)

My comfort level was better, obviously. I kind of knew what to expect. The results were worse, so that’s not as good <laugh>. So maybe my third job, maybe my comfort level will be worse, but the results will be better. I’ll take that. <Laugh>,

(On whether he believes the team can be successful...)

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think, although the success wasn’t there, I think if you watched the way the players play, there was no quit on the team. Nobody gave up.

(On whether this season will shadow over Jason Kidd’s performance...)

When you don’t, again, I’ve said this before, when you don’t reach your goals, everybody has to take a step back and like really do soul searching. Could Jason have done stuff better? I hope so. You know, could I have done stuff better? Absolutely. So, when you don’t reach your goals, those are the type of conversations you have to have.