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Mavs' Donnie Nelson GM Exit: How The Front Office Failed

The Dallas Mavericks and former general manager Donnie Nelson decided to mutually part ways. Recent failures have led to this point.

DALLAS - After a tumultuous week of headlines surrounding the Dallas Mavericks front office, the team has added more to the stack. This time? A change in leadership. 

GM Donnie Nelson and the Mavericks organization have decided to part ways. 

Nelson, in our minds, created a controversy when discussing the performance of Luka Doncic to the media after the Mavericks were eliminated in Game 7 of the team's first-round series with the LA Clippers. 

READ MORE: Mark Cuban Comments on Mavs GM Change with Donnie Nelson Departure

Despite Doncic averaging not only an efficient 35.7 points in the series, but also a staggering 10.3 assists, Nelson expressed how the superstar guard needs to involve his teammates more at the 'right time.'

"Here's a guy (Doncic) that thinks that he can win every possession of every game," said Nelson. "His numbers are unique. I think part of his maturity is again knowing how to balance all those kill shots with involving teammates at the right time."

The Mavericks were not favored to win the series against the Clippers by any stretch. In fact, many oddsmakers favored them to lose each game when setting game-by-game odds. Certainly, to no fault of Doncic...meaning, the roster was not comparable. 

READ MORE: Mavericks, GM Donnie Nelson Decide To Part Ways

But Donnie's odd analysis is not what got us here.

Any general manager is far from perfect, but regardless, there have been some significant miscalculations as of late that hindered the Mavericks in succeeding despite heroic efforts from Doncic. 

The loss to the Clippers means it has been a decade since Dallas won a playoff series. Nelson was a critical component to the 2011 NBA title. But again - that was a decade ago.

This yea, smaller deals such as the Seth Curry-for-Josh Richardson swap have proven to be problematic for the Mavericks. Even some highly-respected Clippers analysts felt as though Dallas would have won the series with Curry in the fold. 

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Curry has repeatedly come up big for the Philadelphia 76ers in this year's NBA playoffs. He's averaging an impressive 16.7 points per game while converting from deep at a 45.5% clip. Meanwhile, Richardson averaged 4.9 points with poor efficiency. 

Another "small failure'': The J.J. Redick trade. In the end, Dallas acquired an injured guy who didn't really want to be here.

READ MORE: Appreciating NBA Greatness: The Dallas Mavs Marvels of Luka Doncic

Bigger picture: While it was a justifiable choice at the time, the Kristaps Porzingis trade is now appearing to be more of a burden than a positive. Now, he's earning over $30 million per season and it will be a challenge to find a trade suitor, if that is the desired route to take. 

And biggest of all: Owner Mark Cuban and Nelson combined on the decision to dismantle that aforementioned 2011 title team. Donnie viewed that success as "catching lightning in the bottle.''

Mavs fans will forever wonder why that group couldn't have done it again - or at least fared better than the teams did when acquisitions like Lamar Odom and Rajon Rondo were the celebrated moves.

Aside from Doncic and Jalen Brunson (who obviously counts as a "single'' compared to the Luka "grand slam''), there have been numerous key misses in the NBA Draft under Nelson's watch. The Mavericks have also overpaid to keep role players who haven't quite lived up to their salaries. And the failure of Cuban, coach Rick Carlisle and Nelson to make Dallas a "destination city'' despite the presence of Dirk Nowitzki and then Luka Doncic is reason for skepticism whenever this franchise talks of chasing "big fish'' in free agency or even in trades.

Tied to that: The concept that "cap room is king,'' which led directly to Dallas' to pass on drafting Giannis Antetokounmpo, who like Nowitzki, Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, had relationships with Nelson that could've been further forged in Dallas.

Nelson, history should show, deserves credit for Dirk and Luka ending up in a Dallas uniform. Cuban is also correct in labeling him a "pioneer,'' especially in the area of the development of international basketball. He also helped engineer the turnaround of a dismal franchise.

But that turnaround was almost a quarter-century ago. And the title was a decade ago. And while our Mike Fisher has rightly championed "The Triangle of Trust'' (Cuban, Nelson and Carlisle) for their unique working relationship over the course of a dozen years ... all relationships run their course.

Whatever drove this outcome (Bob Voulgaris' power or Donnie's unhappiness or Cuban choosing a side or general organizational arrogance or whatever) matters. But what matters most of all is the hint of dysfunction ... and what Mark Cuban, in the post-Donnie era, is going to do to repair it.

The Dallas Mavericks are on notice that surrounding Luka Doncic with the necessary championship-contending pieces needs to take place, or else Donnie won't be the only one out the door. And yes, that includes a certain young superstar who needs to be the centerpiece of every decision this organization makes.

READ MORE: Cuban Comments on Donnie's Departure