The Dallas Mavericks were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by the LA Clippers for the second straight year. Luka Doncic played at a different level in the seven-game series, but it was not enough against Kawhi Leonard and company.
The 2020-2021 season was arguably the strangest in Mavericks’ history. They played amid a pandemic. Dallas had multiple players miss weeks in the health and safety protocols and games were canceled for eight days because of severe weather in Texas. They fought back from a slow start to finish fifth in the Western Conference. There were plenty of positives, despite not reaching their goals.
The Dallas Mavericks conducted exit interviews on Monday afternoon. Nine players spoke to the media, plus head coach Rick Carlisle and GM Donnie Nelson. Here are the best quotes from the eventful afternoon.
Luka Doncic discussed his relationship with Dallas Mavericks co-star Kristaps Porzingis
Doncic let fans know his summer plans and thoughts on signing his rookie max extension this offseason. He also had this to say about his relationship with Kristaps Porzingis.
"“You know it is great. He is a great player. I don’t know what we are going to do next year with the whole roster. We have a couple free agents. In NBA, every year you have new teammates. I don’t know what is going to happen, but he is a great player. I think we got to use him more.”"
Porzingis talked about the team’s chemistry and his role going forward. GM Donnie Nelson downplayed any issues between the two stars. Both players appear to be on the same page heading into the offseason.
Dallas Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson on building the roster around Luka Doncic
Nelson started his interview by answering the question on every Mavs fan’s mind entering the offseason. See what he had to say below.
"“We will be aggressive in the offseason. It is a big summer for us. We are looking forward to putting the other building blocks in place. We’ll look internally first as we always do. We like a lot of the things we’ve seen. We think as a young team, we’ve kind of taken the next step. Obviously, we ran into a bit of a veteran buzz saw. Some of the guys we were slapping up against took it to a different level, but as we try to figure out the pieces to augment our situation, we’ll meet with Rick (Carlisle), Mark (Cuban), and the staff in the next couple of days and hit the ground running in Chicago.”"
Nelson also let fans know they are looking to add pieces this offseason, but the organization feels strongly about the core group in place. The Mavericks will be looking to take another step in the 2021-2022 season. It will be interesting to see how the roster shapes up heading into it.
Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle on the next steps for Luka Doncic
Tim MacMahon asked Carlisle about how Luka can improve going forward. See his response below.
"“In talking to him, we talked about what it is going to take to win in the playoffs. He has taken on such a huge responsibility and has had to be so ball-dominant that we both agreed that trying to strike a balance where there isn’t so much on his shoulders is an important thing.”"
Carlisle added that the Mavericks need to get healthy, improve the roster, and up the defense. He also noted, “It would be great to find a rugged defender who is a deadeye shooter and could make some simple plays”. It is wild to think that Doncic still has a lot of room to grow. He is already a top-five player in the NBA and will be better next season. Expect the roster around him to improve too.
Tim Hardaway Jr. on his fit with the Dallas Mavericks
Tim Hardaway Jr. is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He had this to say about his fit with the Mavericks.
"“If you were to talk to anybody in this organization and anybody that is around me every single day, they would definitely say that I love it here. Regardless of if I was coming off the bench or starting, I really felt like this was home for me, and I really felt like I created a niche for myself here to be a part of something bigger than myself.”"
There is mutual interest in signing a long-term deal this offseason. It will be interesting to see what type of contract Hardaway Jr. receives. Will someone be able to outbid the Mavs? It is another important question on multiple fronts for Dallas.
The Mavericks exit interviews were packed with fantastic nuggets. Maxi Kleber discussed fighting through his injuries in the playoffs. Rookie Josh Green talked about his improving jump shot. Kristaps Porzingis discussed his offseason plans and more. Fans can watch all of the Dallas Mavericks exit interviews here.
The Dallas Mavericks want to jump into title contention next season. An important offseason lies ahead in reaching that goal. Check back to The Smoking Cuban for all the latest rumors, news, and analysis in the months ahead.