Mavericks: Voulgaris calls Mavs “high school” acting high school himself

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

“High school drama” is what former Dallas Mavericks executive Haralabos Voulgaris called the culture within the Mavs front office. In an interview with Pablo Torre on the ESPN Daily podcast, Voulgaris went on to spill the beans and offer his take on what happened within the Mavs organization during his tenuous tenure. Ironically, he did it all while sounding like an immature emotional high school kid himself.

Haralabos Voulgaris had some choice words for the Dallas Mavericks

The disgruntled Director of Quantitative Research was a headline for all the wrong reasons this past season. Tim Cato of the Athletic broke DFW’s story of year when he brought light to Haralabos Voulgaris’ existence with the Mavs and the monumental cluster-fudge he was causing all levels of the undefined flow-chart.

With a direct line of communication to owner Mark Cuban, the man often referred to as “Bob” seemingly undermined the authority of GM Donnie Nelson and HC Rick Carlisle, angered the star player, and insulated Mark Cuban. Moving freely within the organization, Voulgaris was said to dictate line-ups to Carlisle and talk personnel with Cuban (to which he denies).

By Voulgaris’ own admission, his relationship was fractured with Nelson and star player Luka Doncic. Something clearly had to give this summer, and as we know, that something was everyone not named Luka.

All indications are Mark Cuban brought this on himself. If Voulgaris’ recent statements can be trusted, Cuban told him point blank: “I don’t want you to fit in. We’re deficient in areas you’re good at. If it’s hard, hard conversations need to be had.” Anyone who’s ever heard Cuban speak knows that’s pretty on-brand for the owner and renowned entrepreneur.

While Bob was the grenade that blew up the organization, Cuban is the one who pulled the pin and threw him in there.  So, it’s clear there’s a lot of blame to go around. But Voulgaris’ recent interview only reaffirms the fact he was a cancer within the team and ironically the very thing he called the Mavs out for being…

In true, “I love her to death buuuuuut….” fashion, Voulgaris repeatedly prefaced almost every terrible thing he had to say about someone, with a positive sounding statement that was completely contrary to his point.

Statements Voulgaris said like:

"“Nelson is more of a wheeler dealer, like when you shake his hand you want to make sure your rings are still there. Not in a bad way, but he’s that guy.”"

He said “not in a bad way” but tell me how that can be taken in a good way?

Then, discussing his competitive relationship with Donnie Nelson he said this, citing the high school gossipy culture within the front office:

"“Oh, okay, now it’s competitive…” Voulgaris said. “Like, ‘Oh this guy wants me out of here.'” followed immediately by, “It never became obvious that he wanted me out of there. You can just read between the lines  a bit…It’s just you hear certain things, you learn certain things, you’re told certain things. It was a very gossipy workplace, very gossipy.”"

Two points to make here:

1) He perceived a competitive and combative relationship with Donnie but said on multiple occasions in the interview all communication with Nelson, either direct or indirect, was cordial (see also: fist bumps). His primary source regarding Nelson’s feelings towards him was the grapevine. Someone should probably tell him basing all working knowledge of a situation on gossip is about the most school thing you could do.

And who exactly was spreading this gossip to Bob? He’s on record saying, “I didn’t have a working relationship with other people in the front office at all, to the point where it was awkward.” So who exactly was he getting his gossip from? Custodial staff?

2) The Dallas Mavericks brain-trust is notoriously tight-lipped. We’ve seen on multiple occasions that front office lock down like Fort Knox. Cuban/Nelson/Carlisle didn’t let things get leaked out. It was a defining trait of this team. So how again did he learn of this gossip?

When he thought Nelson didn’t like him, he said he switched from just wanting to win games to getting competitive with Nelson. When he found out Luka Doncic got mad because he left a losing game early, he said “this is just not worth it to me” and “I don’t need to be around.”

Virtually every statement, every response by Voulgaris was a perfect illustration of thin skin and high school immaturity. The idea he used his own character trait to trash the Mavs organization is nothing short of amazing.

It’s clear Voulgaris was an enormous mistake for the Dallas Mavericks. Not because of what he brought professionally (Carlisle and Nelson needed analytics in their life), but because of who he was as a person.

If Tim Cato’s reporting was only half true, Bob fractured the front office past the point of return. After hearing things in Voulgaris’ own words it’s clear this couldn’t have gone any other way, in any other organization. What felt like his chance to vindicate himself actually came off as an indictment against himself.

It’s rare you can walk away from a situation like this and not have a “good guy” to point to but that appears to be exactly where we’re at. This offseason couldn’t have gone any other way. The entire structure had to be overturned and that’s what happened when Carlisle, Nelson, and Voulgaris all left.

Next. How good does Jason Kidd have to be to be a success with the Mavs?. dark

Hopefully that fixes everything and it’s all just water under the bridge for those that remain. But it’s a lesson to learn from and will hopefully make the Mavs all the stronger. Maybe we should be looking into that talkative custodian though…