DALLAS - We have stated that we simply cannot imagine the normal player-coach conflicts between Luka Doncic and Rick Carlisle being the reason for Carlisle quitting on the Dallas Mavericks.
We have also stated that whatever authority Bob Voulgaris possesses as a trusted front-office aide of owner Mark Cuban, we simply cannot imagine Rick taking orders from analytics guy Voulgaris.
We're glad, as we explore Carlisle's departure, that our first take is turning out to be true (though it is odd and bothersome that Luka and other teammates have not, to our knowledge, gone public with any social-media "thank you's'' to their outgoing mentor).
We're bothered, however, by the possibility of our take on the Voulgaris/Carlisle dynamic being wrong.
It is being suggested by The Athletic’s Sam Amick, one of the authors of the explosive Voulgaris-centered expose that may have triggered the departure of Carlisle and, days before, GM Donnie Nelson, that “shadow GM” Voulgaris was indeed dictating lineup moves that included the Mavs' decision to start third-string center Boban Marjanovic in the NBA Playoffs against the Clippers.
For the record, Mavs owner Mark Cuban has, in an exclusive visit with DallasBasketball.com, stated by Carlisle and Carlisle alone is responsible for such decisions.
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That doesn't mean the Dallas analytics department doesn't make suggestions; all teams in all sports have that arrangement. Meanwhile, we will stick with our assertion that Carlisle would, if he agreed with a Voulgaris suggestion, simply tell him, "No.''
Or, once the season was over, and once Carlisle's trusted partner Nelson was ousted (probably because of his distaste over Voulgaris' power), maybe Carlisle surveyed the landscape and decided that a Mavs franchise that favored Voulgaris over Nelson isn't a franchise for which he wants to continue working.
Rick Carlisle taking orders from Bob Voulgaris? Difficult to imagine. Voulgaris rubbing the wrong way people inside Mavs HQ, from Nelson to Carlisle to (gulp) Luka Doncic?
Increasingly easy to imagine, as is - as much as Cuban denied it to DBcom - the concept of Voulgaris as an at-least self-styled "shadow GM.''
That would go beyond the "normal player/coach dynamic.'' It would also go beyond the "normal coach/analytics staffer dynamic.''
Where it would go would be toward "dysfunction.''