The Dallas Mavericks have made some major organizational changes this week, and it is sounding more and more like one of them was the result of their biggest star not getting along with his head coach.
Rick Carlisle informed the Mavericks on Thursday that he is stepping down as head coach of the team. According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the decision came following a season in which there was “simmering tension” between Carlisle and Luka Doncic.
MacMahon said on “The Lowe Post” podcast Thursday that Doncic called out Carlisle in the middle of a game earlier this season. Doncic was apparently frustrated with the influence that Bob Voulgaris, a former professional gambler who was hired by Mark Cuban in 2018 as director of quantitative research and development, has had over lineup decisions and rotations.
“(Brian) Windhorst passed this on to me earlier in the season and I was able to confirm it … It was a timeout. Luka, as tends to happen, was p-ssed,” MacMahon said. “And he yells at Rick, ‘Who’s in charge, you or Bob?’ He yells it front of all the Mavericks players, in front of all the assistants, anybody down on the floor could hear it. The Luka-Rick relationship was dicey.”
The outburst came during a game in which the Mavericks had no fans in the stands, which probably made it more embarrassing for Carlisle. MacMahon says it was one example of players being frustrated about the control Voulgaris has over the team.
“I do know that players a lot of times will blame Voulgaris for rotation decisions, lineup decisions, those kinds of things that they don’t like,” MacMahon added.
Cuban seems to have a lot of trust in Voulgaris. There have now been multiple reports claiming Doncic openly dislikes Voulgaris, but Cuban sided with the former gambler over longtime general manager Donnie Nelson, who was fired this week.
The Mavericks obviously have a plan, but it’s difficult to see what it is at the moment. Doncic, who is eligible to sign a supermax extension this offseason, might be happy about Carlisle leaving. He did not, however, seem pleased about Nelson’s departure.