Mavs’ Rick Carlisle admits he’s only heard of Luka Doncic after pre-draft conversation with Donnie Nelson
Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle has the privilege of being around the Luka Doncic experience on a daily basis. Being with him everyday in practice, at courtside during games, or even during film sessions, the NBA champion coach has a first-hand account of what it’s like to be around such a budding generational talent like the Slovenian Sensation.
Carlisle, however, didn’t actually know Doncic until he had pre-draft conversations with Mavericks GM and president Donnie Nelson. He only found out about him when Nelson, who had obviously been doing his homework, told him how special and can’t miss the then-Real Madrid star was.
Carlisle detailed the story below, per Nick Friedell of ESPN:
“I had heard the name,” Carlisle said. “I had not seen him play. This was about a year before the 2018 draft. We were in a rebuild and there were obvious conversations about who was good in the draft, in the coming year. We weren’t projected to be good, so I just asked [Mavericks resident of basketball operations and general manager Donnie Nelson] a general question: ‘Who’s the best player coming out?’ And he said, ‘Doncic,’ and he said, ‘It’s not close.’ I said, ‘Wow.’ And we got into a little deeper conversation about it, he just said, ‘Look, he’s got the elements of some of the great international players of all time.’ Plus he’s an original. He’s very much an original player.
“And then we got to the draft that year and pretty much at the last second we had a chance to make the deal to move up, assuming he was at 3, and assuming Atlanta’s guy was at 5. So that worked out and it’s been a good deal for both teams.”
Obviously, it’s clear that the Mavericks have been eyeing Doncic even way before the 2018 draft. Carlisle has to thank Donnie Nelson, first and foremost, for knowing right away how franchise-altering drafting Doncic would be. Likewise, he needs to thank the Atlanta Hawks for being a willing trade partner on draft night.
And the rest, as they say, is history. We’ll surely keep a close watch on how history will eventually unfold for Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.