Mavericks fear Luka Doncic could demand a trade next summer, per report

The Dallas Mavericks, eliminated from playoff contention two months after trading for Kyrie Irving in what was a desperate attempt to put a co-star alongside Luka Doncic, are in an extremely precarious situation, and they have to get it right heading into a summer of franchise-altering decisions. If they don’t, they may end up losing Doncic. 

From ESPN’s Tim MacMahon:

There’s a strong sense of urgency within the organization to expedite the process before Doncic loses faith in the Mavs’ ability to build a contender around him. He’s wrapping up the first season of a five-year, $215 million supermax contract with a player option for the final season.

Team sources have acknowledged to ESPN that fear exists that Doncic, who publicly and privately expressed extreme frustration this season, could consider requesting a trade as soon as the summer of 2024 if Dallas doesn’t make significant progress by then.

The Mavericks pulling the plug on the season by sitting virtually its entire core against Chicago on Friday night, while still mathematically alive for the play-in tournament, might not have sat well with Doncic, who had been very clear about his desire to keep fighting as long as Dallas had a shot at the postseason. 

These are the kinds of things you hear about two years later, when Doncic is in a different uniform. If the Mavericks don’t want that to happen, there may not be much more room for error. The team has said its first order of business will be re-signing Irving to a long-term extension. Who knows what they’ll do with Christian Wood, also a free agent. 

The Irving commitment would be a risky move to say the least. Under normal circumstances, a lot of teams wouldn’t want anything to do with Irving long-term. But the Mavericks don’t have the means, or likely even the opportunity in terms of available free agents, to replace Irving’s talent in the short term. 

They already let Jalen Brunson get away. They were a better team before they made the trade for Irving, but now that it’s done, if he walks now, Doncic might follow. 

This is why Dallas punted on the season on Friday. The 2023 first-round pick that the Mavericks owe to the Knicks as the final piece of the Kristaps Porzingis trade is top-10 protected. Losing that game gives Dallas the 10th best lottery odds, on the dot, upping their chances of landing in the top 10 and keeping the pick. which the Mavericks could potentially use as part of a trade package this summer to further outfit Doncic and Irving with a legitimate championship-contending cast. They better start by adding some defenders. 

All of this is being done in an all-out effort to keep Doncic, who just finished the first season of a five-year, $215 million supermax contract. Don’t let that fool you into thinking Doncic is in Dallas whether he likes it or not. Kevin Durant just got traded in the first year of a four-year deal. If a superstar wants out, he gets out. If the Mavericks want to keep that from happening with Doncic, they’re on the clock to start making the right moves.