Rick Carlisle on Luka Doncic
Head coach Rick Carlisle dishes on the trade that brought Luka Doncic to Dallas!
BROOKLYN – In a night for the ages, the Dallas Mavericks finally got their man!
In one of the biggest nights in franchise history, the Mavs created a big buzz in Thursday’s NBA Draft when they acquired highly-touted Slovenian guard Luka Doncic in a widely anticipated trade. That smooth move sets up one of the most dynamic young backcourts in the NBA in 20-year old Dennis Smith Jr. and Doncic, who turned 19 in February.
With their two second-round draft picks, the Mavs selected Villanova guard Jalen Brunson with the 33rd selection and then took SMU guard Shake Milton with the 54th pick. But the Mavs eventually were involved in yet another trade as they shipped Milton to the Philadelphia 76ers for the 56th and 60th picks.
Earlier in the night, the Mavs drafted Oklahoma guard Trae Young with the No. 5 pick. But shortly thereafter – in a pre-arranged trade – the Mavs shipped Young and a protected 2019 first-round draft choice to the Atlanta Hawks for Doncic.
After the trade was announced to the crowd at the Barclays Center, the crowd was abuzz. In essence, this was the most high powered draft-day trade the Mavs have executed since they acquired Dirk Nowitzki in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks for Robert “Tractor’ Traylor on the day of the 1998 NBA Draft.
As if he could hear a chorus of cheers coming from folks in North Texas, Doncic was all smiles after learning the Mavs had picked him up in a trade. It was as if he and the Mavs were joined at the hip, even though he never visited Dallas prior to the draft.
“I had been talking a lot to Dallas,” a jubilant Doncic said. “They really wanted me and I’m happy to be a part of them.
“They really wanted me and they were very, very nice. They were very nice to me and I think we had a very good relationship.”
Doncic also is looking forward to having a very good relationship with Smith, who was the ninth overall pick of last year’s draft and averaged 15.2 points and 5.2 assists as a rookie. The Mavs could conceivably roll out an opening-day starting lineup that includes Smith and Doncic in the backcourt.
“Especially, I really like Dennis Smith,” Doncic said. “I saw a lot of Dennis (this past season). He’s an amazing point guard.”
Doncic, who has superstar written all over him, comes to the Mavs while carrying some absolutely amazing credentials. The 6-7, 200-pounder was the EuroLeague Most Valuable Player this season and also was the MVP of the EuroLeague Final Four after he led Real Madrid to the EuroLeague title a few days ago.
In 33 games this past season, Doncic averaged 24.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. And the reason why he was so coveted is because he put those impressive numbers on the boards in only 25.9 minutes in the second-best league in the world.
“It feels amazing just to be an NBA player,” Doncic said. “I’m just happy to attend the draft and I’m very happy to be part of the Dallas Mavericks family.”
Doncic said one reason his stock was high is because he can play point guard, shooting guard, small forward or power forward. That versatility will come in handy for a Mavs team that was 24-58 last season and are now in position to land one of the eight Western Conference playoff spots next season.
For his part, Doncic is very confident that his game was transdfer admirably to the NBA.
“I’ve been a professional since I was 15,” Doncic said. “I played against the EuroLeague stars, against ex-NBA players.
“I had four or five guys on my team that played in the NBA. They’ve been talking about the NBA to me a lot through this year so I think I’m prepared.”
After missing the playoffs the past two years, the Mavs desperately want to get their feet firmly planted back on the postseason track. And they believe the Doncic’s potential will help carry them there.
Not long after he had gotten traded to the Mavs, Doncic was on the phone talking to owner Mark Cuban, coach Rick Carlisle and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson.
“(Cuban) was excited,” Doncic said, “and I’m so excited to meet him.”
In all, Donic had to wait before he was told he was officially a member of the Mavs. He initially was walking around wearing a Hawks cap – and had to be hidden away until the trade was announced.
After that, Doncic strolled down the walkway in the arena grinning from ear to ear while being hounded by a throng of media types from America and Europe. he even stopped to pose for a picture while carrying his country’s flag.
“I really hope we can it to the playoffs and I think with this team that we can make it,” Doncic said
Meanwhile, Young was taken aback about being traded by the Mavs.
“Naw, I’m not very surprised,” Young told Mavs.com. “I knew if I got picked at five I would be traded to the Atlanta Hawks.”
In addition to playing alongside Smith, Doncic is anxious to play with Dirk Nowitzki, who is a legend in American and in Europe.
“He’s just a legend, he’s an amazing player,” Doncic said. “I’m really happy to be a part of this trade.”
Doncic didn’t arrive in New York until Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET and admitted to being a bit sleepy. He said he couldn’t sleep much Wednesday night, so he played some video games.
“For sure it’s been the best week of my life,” Doncic said. “When I was a little kid I always dreamed about being an NBA player, so it’s been an amazing week.”
The Mavs will have a Friday afternoon press conference in Dallas to introduce Doncic to the local media.
“First of all I want to meet the city, I want to meet the players, I want to meet the staff, the coaches and everybody,” Doncic said. “And then play some basketball.”
As far as the three second-round picks the Mavs wound up with, Brunson led Villanova to two national titles over the past three years. This past season the 6-3, 190-pounder was the consensus National College Player of the Year and first-team All-American while averaging 18.9 points and 4.6 assists and shooting a healthy 52.1 percent from the field.
Meanwhile, Spalding averaged 12.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks this past season. And with the very last pick of the draft, the second part of the trade the Mavs made with the Sixers helped them acquire Dayton University center Kostas Antetokounmpo, who is the younger brother of Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Considered a project, Kostas Antetokounmpo averaged just 5.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in 15 minutes per game this past season for Dayton. While Antetokounmpo obviously isn’t as polished as his older brother, the Mavs played the bloodlines game in hopes that one day that gamble will come to fruition.
But the stunning move that will allow Mavs fans to sleep comfortably tonight was the trade for Doncic, who many believe is destined for stardom.