Luka Dončić’s sensational summer of 2021 just keeps going.
The Mavericks’ superstar point guard, fresh from leading Slovenia to its first men’s basketball appearance in the Olympics and narrowly missing a medal, was back in his home country Tuesday to sign a record supermax contract extension.
He deal was officially announced shortly before 8 a.m., Dallas time. It was signed earlier Tuesday in Slovenia at the hotel where the Mavericks’ entourage is staying, Dončić said.
The deal, worth $207-million over five seasons according to numerous reports, kicks in during the 2022-23 season and will keep Dončić under contract as a Maverick until 2027.
“It’ a very special moment,” Dončić said. “Obviously, thank you to Dallas for offering me this. I don’t know what to say. I never imagined this happening. I was only dreaming of playing in the NBA. Now, I can sign an extension with the Dallas Mavericks for five more years, which I never had a doubt of. I always wanted to sign this.”
The deal, which was done with the Mavericks’ small army of representatives and agent Bill Duffy in Slovenia, was a no-brainer for both sides. The Mavericks – as they did with Dirk Nowitzki for so many contract negotiations – simply offered the most money they could to Dončić.
For the 6-7 22-year-old is entering his fourth season. It was the largest rookie contract extension in history.
In other words, a win-win.
As Dončić’s agent, Bill Duffy said: “He’s a great human being who cares about his community, cares about Slovenia. When Luka came into the draft, we really wanted him in Dallas, so we worked with Mark and I want to give recognition to Donnie Nelson and . . . the scouts that put all this together and Mark allowed this to happen.
“(Luka’s) the easiest guy to work with because he’s gracious, he’s very humble and very loyal. It’s an honor, so this is a great day for Luka to start what will be a hall of fame career and hopefully many championships will follow.”
That last line is music to Mavericks’ fans ears.
Dončić was eligible for the supermax extension by virtue of making the all-NBA first, second or third teams twice in his first three seasons.
On hand for the announcement in Ljubljana, Slovenia, were owner Mark Cuban, coach Jason Kidd, president of basketball operations Nico Harrison, franchise icon and special adviser Dirk Nowitzki, director of athletic performance Casey Smith and Michael Finley, assistant GM.
Cuban opened the news conference with a few words in Slovenian, which he admitted that he probably “butchered.”
“This is a big day,” Cuban said. “When we drafted Luka in 2018, we had an inkling he was good, but we never imagined he was this good. And that’s the culmination of a lot of hard work on his part. He didn’t just show up.
“He not only worked hard to be the incredible NBA player he is, the incredible professional he is, but he worked incredibly hard to become part of the community, part of the team . . . all the things you look for that tell you what a great human being he truly is. To be able to announce he’s signed an extension with the Dallas Mavericks . . . we want to have him have the same type of hall of fame career if not more than Dirk, who is sitting here in the front row. Congratulations for all the hard work and this is just the beginning.”
In reference to the community assists Dončić has delivered and continues to, he said in his announcement: “Along with this contract, I’m also happy to announce that I am increasing my efforts and expanding The Luka Dončić Foundation. My foundation is an international nonprofit that will give back to places that mean so much to me like my home country of Slovenia, as well as the communities of North Texas.”
While in Ljubljana, the group had spent much of Monday with Dončić seeing sights and enjoying Slovenian food and, as Cuban said, “the wine, the wine and the wine.”
The relief on the faces of all the participants was easy to see on Tuesday as the deal was announced.
Dončić said there were “a lot of things” that convinced him that re-signing with the Mavericks was an easy decision, but none more important than his comfort level.
“I feel like (it’s) a second home, (like I’m) a second Dirk,” he said. “But it feels like home there. The people that work for the organization are great. I just feel good there. I can say nothing else.”
Cuban said it was important to the organization to send such a high-level group of executives to Slovenia to commemorate the signing.
“To confirm to Luka how important he is to us,” Cuban said. “This is just the beginning. We want him to know we’re there for him, whether it’s here in Slovenia, in Dallas or anywhere in the world. And part of that process is not only getting to know him, but getting to know what’s important to him and how he looks at things. And I think coming here and being around the city and spending time with him and meeting the people, that’s enabled us to take the first step.”
Cuban, who said he’s now altered his thoughts on international competitions like the Olympics because of the joy that he sees it bring to players who represent their countries, also said that preliminary talks have taken place to have an exhibition game involving Dončić and the Mavericks, possibly in Madrid, the team with whom he played before the Mavericks,with a side trip to Slovenia.
In the meantime, the Mavericks now have their cornerstone locked up and can continue the job of building a championship team around Dončić.
“We’re happy,” Cuban said of how the offseason has gone. “I think we improved our team considerably. I think if you watched how Slovenia played and his ability to find open shooters and play a team game, I think we got a lot of that. I know Jason’s excited and Nico’s excited going forward.”
Said Dončić: “I know we made some great moves in free agency but one of the most important things to win is chemistry on the court. For example, (with) Slovenia, we had amazing chemistry the whole time and I think that led us to winning games. And I think that’s what we need in Dallas.”