DALLAS - There are notable quotes from the Dallas Mavericks as they disperse after their 2020-21 season came to an end... For the second season in a row, in a first-round NBA Playoffs loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Last year it was six games and this year it was seven games.
In exit interviews, Mavs players and front-office types spoke about the state and future of the franchise; the comments ranged from optimistic to uncertain as the team heads towards a pivotal offseason.
DONUT 1. LOATHING LOSING “Losing in the first round,” said coach Rick Carlisle, “is something we don't like doing… We’ve just got to keep building the team around (Luka Doncic). This is going to be an important offseason on many levels.”
Dallas has yet to win a playoff series since the 2011 championship season. Is Carlisle, with a contract that runs through the 2022-23 season, still the right coach to lead the Mavericks? Owner Mark Cuban says, "He isn't going anywhere."
DONUT 2. DONCIC’S DOUGH In the 126-111 Game 7 loss, Doncic scored or assisted on 77 points against the Clippers, the most in NBA history by a player in a Game 7.
Doncic plans on signing his five-year, $201.5 million supermax extension with the Mavs this offseason, the 22-year-old indicated on Monday.
"I think you know the answer to that question," the Slovenian All-Star said with a smile.
DONUT 3. HARDAWAY’S HEART On the other hand, Tim Hardaway Jr. approaches NBA free agency this summer.
“If you talk to anybody that’s around me,” Hardaway said on Monday. “They would tell you that I love it here in Dallas.”
DONUT 4. THE PRIORITY If you ask Carlisle, re-signing Hardaway Jr., arguable the Mavs' second-best player in the playoffs, is at the top of the offseason to-do list.
"Getting him signed,'' Carlisle said, "is a priority."
DONUT 5. KP QUERIES The offseason questions started quickly for Dallas center Kristaps Porzingis, who played only 43 of 72 regular season games because of multiple health issues.
“Looking back at the whole season and even last season, kind of feels like one super long year with the bubble, especially for myself because of the meniscus (surgery). I had to get that fixed. I started the season late without practices. All those things added up. It’s been an up-and-down year,” Porzingis said.
DONUT 6. LUKA ON KP Doncic continued his in-public support for Porzingis, despite the two young stars not quite living up to the “dynamic duo” hype just yet.
"(Porzingis) is a great player," said Doncic. "I don't know what we're going to do next year with the whole roster. I think we have a couple of free agents. In the NBA, every year you have new teammates, so I don't know what's going to happen. But he's a great player. I think we've got to use him more."
DONUT 7. UNICORN TWEAKS Porzingis acknowledged that he needs to tweak the way he plays the game to find the best way to maximize his talent, saying that he'd like more support from the staff to help with that.
"(Porzingis) is a very unique player," said Carlisle. "I just think that there are so many things that he can do at 7-3 that very few guys in the history of the game that I’ve ever seen can do. We’ve got to keep studying our offense in ways to bring more of those positive things out.”
DONUT 8. WRONG, DONNIE Mavs GM Donnie Nelson has some ear-catching quotes about the tandem:
"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."
DONUT 9. THE PROFILE The Mavs look to upgrade the roster this offseason, with their eye on defense.
“It’ll be great to find a rugged defender who is a deadeye shooter and can make some simple plays,” Carlisle said. “Hey look, our eyes are always open, and we have some young guys that are developing too. I think those are all realistic avenues.
DONUT 10. ‘IT DIDN’T HAPPEN' The Mavs look to build around Doncic through free agency or a trade — the Mavs don’t have a pick in this year’s draft.
“Look, the idea (this season) would have been to take the next step (and) get out of the first round,” Nelson said. “That would have been the prototypical block-by-block progression chart so to speak, but it didn’t happen.”
DONUT 11. J-RICH SUPPORT In community affairs... Guard Josh Richardson has been named one of 10 nominees for the 2020-21 NBA Cares Community Assist Award.
“My family instilled in me early on the value of service and that communities are created and sustained by our ability to support and serve others,” said Richardson. “I’m grateful to the Mavs organization and community for welcoming me with open arms, supporting Dallas is a priority for me.”
DONUT 12. THE FINAL WORD Last but not least, an apology.
“I'm very sorry to the Dallas fans we couldn't get them the (Game 7) win (over the Clippers) because they deserve it," said Mavs star Doncic.