The Dallas Mavericks made massive headlines in June when The Athletic dropped a story about friction in the front office. A central figure in the story was Bob Voulgaris, a gambler turned front office executive, hired by owner Mark Cuban and his increasing influence in the organization.
Days later, general manager Donnie Nelson and head coach Rick Carlisle departed the organization after more than three decades of combined service with the franchise. It was a shocking and tumultuous week for the Mavericks, a franchise that was known for its stability.
Voulgaris also left the organization this offseason after Nico Harrison was hired as general manager, but he had not talked on the record about what happened during his time with the Mavericks until his appearance on ESPN Daily on Oct. 21. Let us take a closer look.
Bob Voulgaris on his former role with the Dallas Mavericks
Voulgaris notes that Cuban hired him first as a consultant before taking him on full-time in 2018, but the former gambler had a stipulation that the team drafted Luka Doncic. According to Voulgaris, he gave himself the title of Director of Quantitative Research and Development, and talked throughout the episode about his lack of relationship with Donnie Nelson.
Pablo Torre asked Voulgaris about his side of all of the situations described in The Athletic’s story from June. He discussed his working relationship with former head coach Rick Carlisle, and how he valued Vouglaris’ numbers, but noted that he did not have strong relationships with others in the front office. Voulgaris also talks in-depth about his relationship with Luka Doncic.
Voulgaris told his side of the story of the 2020 NBA Draft, and how he selected the team’s picks and not general manager Donnie Nelson. Here is a quote from what he said about the draft.
"The focus of the draft for me was to trade up to get Tyrese Haliburton. That was the focus of the draft. I’m not operating the phones, so I’m trying to impress upon Mark this is the guy we need. Can we make this happen? What can we do? Donnie went up to his office because his office is separate from everything. I’m assuming worked the phones."
He noted that the scouts had done multiple mock drafts, so it was evident who everyone liked and what teams were in on players. Voulgaris continued with this.
"First of all, I didn’t know I was going to be running the draft. I don’t think it was anyone’s plan for me to be running the draft, but when it came time to pick 18, the general manager of the team wasn’t around."
Voulgaris said that Nelson left the room after getting upset with him, and Bob talked about how he knew who everyone in the room liked before selecting Josh Green.
Regardless of which side the story fans choose to believe, there was clearly a ton of dysfunction within the organization amongst the old regime. Voulgaris noted multiple times in the interview that he is not the best people person and that he has heard that the Mavericks made significant changes under their new leadership.
The interview is a must-listen for all Dallas Mavericks fans as Bob Voulgaris tells his side of the team’s front office drama last year. Be sure to check it out, and do not miss a game this season as Luka Doncic looks to lead the Mavs into title contention.