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Luka Doncic Options: Do Dallas Mavs Have Contract Problem?

As Luka Doncic becomes extension eligible in the coming weeks, signing to stay with the Dallas Mavericks long-term would net him up to $77 million more than wanting to play elsewhere.
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A lot can happen in the NBA over the span of a few weeks and the Dallas Mavericks have proven that. Since jumping out to a 2-0 series lead against the LA Clippers in the opening round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, much has changed.

Shortly after jumping out to the series lead and heading back to Dallas for Games 3 and 4, the Mavericks ultimately lost the series in six games. From there, questions started to arise around what the front office would do going forward to get Doncic help and keep him happy.

In his media availability following the close of the season, Doncic made it clear that he intends on re-signing with the Mavericks, which would net him over $200 million (the number DBcom has been using is $201.5 million) throughout his early-to-mid twenties.

Shortly after, news broke of unhappiness in the Doncic camp surfaced in regard to the Dallas front office. Mavs owner Mark Cuban labeled one report "total bullshit'' and broke down with DallasBasketball.com his issues with the story.

Days later, on Wednesday afternoon, news broke that the Mavericks had parted ways with longtime GM Donnie Nelson, who had been with the team for longer than even owner Mark Cuban.

How did Luka Doncic feel about this and how would it affect his extension talks?

During an appearance on Wednesday's episode of The Jump, ESPN's Marc Spears said, "there's no talks right now" when it comes to a Doncic extension.

READ MORE: Mavs Donuts: We're Really Ripping Doncic as a Harden-Like 'Ball Hog'?

This comes across as "newsy,'' except for the fact that young superstar isn’t eligible to sign an extension until August 6 and is currently in Slovenia with the national team in its attempt to qualify for the upcoming Olympics. 

When it's time to have those conversations, they will certainly be had. Or, maybe better said, there aren't really "conversations'' needed about the extension itself. There are no negotiations. There is simply the number.

Additionally, it has been suggested that Doncic might be unhappy with the departure of Nelson. Our Mike Fisher has often reported on their close relationship, but notes now, in the wake of Nelson's departure, that is doesn't represent some sort of organizational "deal-breaker'' for Luka.

But ... does Doncic have other financial options? Technically, yes.

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But signing with the Mavericks long-term is by far his best option, which would earn him at least $34 million more than anything else he could do.

READ MORE: Luka Doncic 'Is From A Different Planet,' Says Dirk

Set to enter his fourth NBA season this October, Doncic is eligible for the rookie supermax extension after making a recent All-NBA Team, which would net him more than $200 million over five seasons.

What are the options for Luka Doncic in regards to his next contract?

Designated Rookie Extension (5 Years, $201.5M)

According to Spotrac’s Keith Smith, the Designated Rookie Extension allows Dallas to sign Doncic for the 30 percent of the cap max. Again, we have projected to be worth roughly $201.5 million over five years. 

Critics can argue about Doncic sticking around in Dallas amidst all of the turmoil and rumors surrounding the Mavericks, but this is by far his best option in terms of making the most money as well.

Standard Rookie Scale Extension (5 Years, $167.9M)

Considering Doncic has earned the accolades to make him eligible for the 30 percent of the cap max, this deal would make no sense for him, unless he wanted to save the team money.

Considering he’s 22 years old and has earned every bit of $200 million, signing the standard Rookie Scale Extension worth just 25 percent of the cap max likely won’t happen. This contract would net Doncic just $167.9 million over a five-year span. There is no reason for him to want this and no reason for the Mavs to insult him by suggesting it.

Finish Out Contract (5 Years, $144.1M)

Doncic also has the option to play out his rookie scale deal and and become an unrestricted free agent in 2023 after signing a $13.3 million qualifying offer for the 2022-23 season. This is extremely unrealistic, as no player in NBA history has turned down a max contract to sign a rookie qualifying offer.

Either way, Doncic could theoretically sign a new max deal as unrestricted free agent after the 2022-23 season if he really wanted to play elsewhere, but he’d miss out on roughly $57 million that he would get signing his Designated Rookie Extension.

Restricted Free Agent Offer Sheet (4 Years, $124M)

The last option, which is the least lucrative, would be to sign an offer sheet with another team as a restricted free agent. Not only would Doncic make less money, but he’d also be signed to fewer years of max money.

In this scenario, the Mavericks would match any offer sheet Doncic could sign. If for some reasons the Mavericks were forced into a sign-and-trade, this is the contract he would be looking at, which could end up costing Doncic upwards of $77 million.

We've seen this option mentioned in the media and again, it's simply not viable. Luka's vow to sign the supermax is the most logical and lucrative path. It does not guarantee happiness; as we are quick to point out, in the NBA, a star can be signed one day and request his exit the next. But contractually, the five-year, $201 million supermax is unquestionably what both the Mavs and Doncic are planning here.