Mavs Giannis Donuts: Dallas' Only Recruiting Advantage

Mike Fisher

When it comes to Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Dallas Mavericks are tied for first in one category: All 30 NBA teams covet him equally. but beyond that? Our friends at make a case for Dallas as a "dark-horse'' contender to somehow steal the services of the Milwaukee Bucks MVP star. Let's gently try to clear things up in Mavs Donuts ...


It is wrong to assume that Milwaukee will fail to retain "The Greek Freak.'' The Bucks have done every single thing right here, including leaping over the "small-market'' hurdle to create a true contender. Milwaukee is the best in the East, and maybe the best in the NBA.

That organization does not deserve the rest of us assuming they'll somehow blow this.

DONUT 2: YEAH, BUT? OK, fine. Figure the Bucks do not lock up Antetokounmpo on a long-term deal before his contract expires after the 2020-21 NBA season. And assume he's free. (There is a present "state of flux'' here, as without the pandemic hiatus, June 30, 2020 would've been a date he could've signed his five-year, $253.75 million supermax extension with the Bucks. Now we don't have that date, and we don't know cap numbers ... So there are things up in the air.)

Or ...

Assume that the Bucks somehow implode, fail to win, fail to keep him happy. Heck, he doesn't even need to be free then. He simply needs to be unhappy in Milwaukee. (Indeed, if he doesn't sign the supermax - whenever and for however much - that could be taken as a "so you're saying there's a chance?'' sort of sign.)

DONUT 3: CHANCES OF UNHAPPINESS? Here's the problem with that: One of the reasons for Mavs GM Donnie Nelson's long-ago affection for Giannis, who was probably 14 when he and his family began allowing relationships to develop with Donnie (and with another NBA scouting type by the name of Tony Ronzone), is his Dirk-like nature.

Raw, but freakishly-talented, sure. But something else: Certain qualities as a person. Maybe qualities that are nurtured by not being from the United States, by not being pampered by coaches, recruiters and shoe companies, by not being "AAU kids,'' by not really having much awareness that they are potential superstars.

Qualities like character and loyalty.

Dirk Nowitzki grew up in Dallas. He found family here. It was made to feel like home.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, after seven years in Milwaukee, has grown up there. Family there. Home there.

Same thing.

The problem with the entire concept of "stealing'' Giannis it that his Dirk-like qualities might mean he's as "steal-able'' as Dirk himself ever was.

DONUT 4: THE TEMPTING VISION ClutchPoints writes:

"Dallas has swiftly expedited its rebuild by swinging a draft night trade for Luka Doncic in 2018 and by robbing the Knicks in the Kristaps Porzingis deal in January 2019.

"Suddenly, the Mavs have one of the most dynamic duos in the NBA, you have to think that the Mavericks will be a significant player for Antetokounmpo. ... Just imagine a triumvirate of Doncic, Porzingis and Giannis. That would be one of the most talented trios this league has ever seen, and Dallas would instantly become a title contender.''

No arguments there. Rather than Dallas searching for a "third star'' to place right behind Doncic and Porzingis, it would be acquiring a "first star.'' Giannis would be at the top of the most impressive three-man totem pole in the NBA.

It's certainly fun to wonder of Antetokounmpo would be as intrigued by the totem pole as we are.

But that's all it is. Wonder.

DONUT 5: CAP SPACE! Clutchpoints writes:

"With significant cap space on the horizon for Mark Cuban’s club in 2021, you have to think that the Mavericks will be a significant player for Antetokounmpo.''

Au contraire, on three fronts.

a) There are too many moving parts to pretend to know what Dallas' cap space will be in the post-2020-21 offseason. Heck, we don't even know what dates that offseason will occur!

b) Mavs Nation has learned, the hard way, that NBA free-agency shopping isn't about who is a free agent. It's about what star player wants to move where and when. That's all.

Giannis could announce TODAY that he wants out of Milwaukee NOW ... and the organization would essentially be forced to acquiesce. 

c) Should that happen, ever? Yes, Dallas would be wise to carefully prepare its open arms. But when ClutchPoints opines, "You have to think that the Mavericks will be a significant player for Antetokounmpo.'' ... That's just flat-wrong.

You have to think no such thing.

DONUT 6: THE USUAL SUSPECTS ClutchPoints pooh-poohs this notion by rather casually stating, "If and when Giannis does hit free agency, we will surely hear of the usual suspects in terms of potential destinations. However, ...''

"The Usual Suspects.'' Like, the Lakers? We're dismissing the Lakers?

That seems unwise. 

DONUT 7: DISSING MILWAUKEE ClutchPoints writes:

"Think of it from Giannis’ point of view. The Bucks have never been a franchise that has been able to convince big-name free agents to sign. Milwaukee is not exactly a marquee market, and up until last spring, the Bucks had not won a playoff series since 2001. ...''

DONUT 8: KISSING DALLAS Meanwhile, in Big D?

"There is a lot to like about Dallas,'' ClutchPoints writes enthusiastically. "Cuban is a fantastic owner who takes care of his players. The fans are great. The market may not be New York or Los Angeles, but it is still rather large and garners more attention than Milwaukee.''

DONUT 9: WHICH IS WHICH? Wait a sec. The writer notes that a certain city fails to draw big-name free agents, isn't a big market, and has experienced a postseason draught?

Is he talking about Milwaukee or Dallas?

Wait another sec. The writer notes that a certain city takes care of its players, has great fans and garners attention - just not New York/L.A. attention?

Is he talking about Dallas or Milwaukee?

DONUT 10: OUR ALLEGIANCES To be clear: We live in DFW. Have for 30 years. We chose it. We continue to choose it. Love it here.

And don't wish to move to Wisconsin.

But just as there are Dirk/Giannis similarities, there are Milwaukee Bucks/Dallas Mavericks similarities. And I have no interest in lording over the Bucks because we think we're a better draw.

Sidebar: It is the view of Luka Doncic's father that Dallas is an inviting place for any Euro player because the Mavs seem to know how to create a comfortable environment for such a player.

That's a special thing. But there is no evidence that the Bucks have great failures in that same department.

Said Bucks GM Jon Horst, via ESPN: "At the end of the day, I have full confidence in my personal relationship, our league's relationship, our coach's relationship, his teammates' relationship with Giannis in what we're doing and what we're about.''

DONUT 11: TITLE TOWN It's true that Giannis to Dallas would make this a leading contender to be NBA Title Town. But ... isn't he already in that spot with the Bucks? Oh, we can root for it to all fall apart up there - oh, heck, let's admit it, we DO root for that to fall apart.

But besides shoveling snow (we grew up in Minnesota, we get it), what is there to not like about Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks?

DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD We recognize that we're "burying the lead'' here and we also recognize that we might comes across as chastising ClutchPoints, which does a lot of stuff we enjoy. But we must say: If you're going to write about a Mavs connection with The Greek Freak, and you don't write about Donnie and Ronzone ...

You don't know enough about what you're writing about.

In the spring of 2013, Donnie Nelson neared the payoff of a plan that had been in the works for years. Yes, you know about how the plan failed when his advice to owner Cuban went unheard, Cuban making the decision to pass on Giannis with the No. 13 overall pick in that NBA Draft to instead save a few hundred thousand dollars (of cap room) or so by trading down ...

Because that extra dough was earmarked for free-agent target Dwight Howard.

Then Dwight didn't come. And Giannis was long gone. And everybody realized later that if Dwight really wanted to come here, a measly few hundred thou probably wasn't going to matter.

You know all of that.

What not everybody knows is that Donnie Nelson basically moved to Greece that spring in order to maintain his close ties with the Antetokounmpo family - ties that began being knotted back when Giannis was just 14 years old.

The joke around Mavs HQ was that "Donnie moved in with the Antetokounmpo family.'' We've always assumed that was an exaggeration. But pitched his tent right across the street in Giannis' native Greece? Yeah, something like that.

Additionally, 2012-13 was the year the Mavs (re-)hired Ronzone,  who alongside Donnie might be the most connected international scouting mind in the world. And guess who else was friendly with the Antetokounmpo family?

That would be Tony Ronzone.

So when the Mavericks are discussed as "a very real threat to snatch Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021'' (ClutchPoints' words, not ours), you should forget "Texas weather'' or "small-market'' or "Dallas fans'' (God bless us!) and know that any Mavs chance here would only partly be due to the tandem of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis ...

And would even more be about the tandem of Donnie Nelson and Tony Ronzone.

Comments (4)
No. 1-2

Dallas has a huge edge over Milwaukee because we have Luka and KP. I think those three would be much more than title contenders. I think they would be the best team in league history if healthy. Giannis isn't dumb. He has to see that.


All water under the bridge now but if Cuban was hellbent on saving money for Dwight, wouldn't it have made sense if they went on to draft Giannis at 13 and just draft-an-stash him? they make a play for dwight but still keep Giannis a year after.