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Haralabos Voulgaris Rips Luka Doncic's Mavs, Former GM Donnie Nelson: Front Office Like 'Game of Thrones'

The Voulgaris visit is a quote machine of revelations of Mavs problems ... and maybe of some of the problems that are the fault of Voulgaris himself. A top-10 sampling ....

DALLAS - Haralabos Voulgaris, the sports gambler-turned-former Dallas Mavericks director of quantitative research and development, admits he is "an acquired taste.''

The colorful Voulgaris also proves to be wildly quotable in an explosive interview in which he rips former Mavs GM Donnie Nelson and says working for the front office of the Mavs (who open NBA play on Thursday) was like a “high school drama.”

Voulgaris, who was not retained this year (which he hints was his idea). discussed in depth the franchise’s alleged dysfunction via Pablo Torre on the ESPN Daily podcast. And the interview is a quote machine of revelations of Mavs problems ... and maybe of some of the problems that are the fault of what we could label the self-aggrandizing Voulgaris himself. A top-10 sampling ....

1. Take the issue of power inside the building, of Voulgaris as what the media has taken to call his role as the "shadow GM.'' From Voulgaris:

“Changing the organizational structure of the Dallas Mavericks was never something I was interested in unless I was going to be the guy in charge, and I wasn’t even sure. I never actually wanted to be the guy in charge until it became clear that the guy in charge didn’t want me around. And then I was like, ‘Oh, OK, now it’s competitive.’ …''

"Unless I was going to be the guy in charge''?

2. On the alleged tension between himself and long-time Mavs boss:

"My working relationship with Donnie Nelson was seeing him every once in a while and getting a fist bump. That was it. Whether it was a fist-bump text message or a fist bump in person, that was his thing. He was very nice and cordial to my face, [but] I think threatened by me.”

We suppose we can now dump the word "alleged.''

3. On Donnie's skill set:

"He's more of a, kind of like a wheeler-dealer, like when you shake his hands, you want to make sure your rings are still there. Not in a bad way, but he’s that guy. He’s a deal maker. He’s a broker.''

But not in a bad way?

4. On conflicting with Luka Doncic, which Voulgaris suggests was the result of "angst'' on Doncic's part:

“If I’m distracting that f—ing guy. I don’t need to be around. Whatever the case may be, no matter how I see it, it doesn’t matter at the end of the day. He is the fulcrum of the team. So I was like, ‘Cool.’''

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5. On what he believes owner Mark Cuban wanted from him:

"Looking back on it, it was kind of like I was this missile to go in there and create the change and unlock some boulders that couldn’t be moved before.”

6. On "ruffling feathers'':

“I sent [Cuban] an email where I was like, ‘Hey, look, I’m just trying to fit in. I appreciate the opportunity. I don’t want to ruffle any feathers.' “And he was very clear, like, ‘No, I don’t want you to fit in. We’re deficient in areas that you’re good at. If it’s hard, hard conversations have to be had.''

Interestingly, Voulgaris is still following Cuban's orders in one sense: "Ruffling feathers.''

7. On the Mavs workplace:

It was a very gossipy workplace, very gossipy. It was like a sewing circle over there.”

8. Anything else about the Mavs workplace?

“I didn’t have a working relationship with other people in the front office at all, to the point where it was awkward. But that’s kind of the M.O. of the way that front office was run — like, surround yourself with people who are not threats. You don’t become an NBA general manager and hold on to your job for that long unless you are very, very good at keeping your job.

9. On execs being jealous of him:

"(I was) dealing with a bunch of people who are upset with the fact that someone else has the owner’s ear and they don’t.''

10. And in the end, Bob's parting shot:

"I was trying to find a way out of this job to begin with.”