DMN-MAVS-LUKA

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic celebrates a 3-pointer against the LA Clippers at the Staples Center June 6 in Los Angeles.

Luka Doncic had for at least several days been scheduled to speak Thursday to reporters in Slovenia, as he and the Slovenian National team prepare for an Olympic qualifying tournament later this month.

But when news broke Wednesday that the Mavericks and longtime team president Donnie Nelson had “mutually” parted ways, Doncic’s current feelings about the NBA franchise for which he plays became very relevant.

Doncic and Nelson have been close since Doncic was a teenager, so it was not surprising Thursday when Doncic expressed personal disappointment about Nelson’s departure.

“It was kind of tough to me,” Doncic told reporters during the press conference in his hometown of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

“I really like Donnie. [I’ve known] him since I was a kid and he was the one that drafted me. It was tough to me, seeing that, but I’m not the one making decisions there.”

“There” of course is Dallas, where for the first time since 1997 a Nelson is not general manager of the Mavericks. Don Nelson was coach and general manager from 1997 to 2005. When Don stepped down in 2005, Donnie added the title of general manager to that of president of basketball operations, which he earned in July 2002.

A source told The Dallas Morning News that Doncic did not learn that Nelson and the Mavericks were parting ways until Wednesday, and that he spent much of the evening digesting the news. Slovenia is seven hours ahead of Dallas, so when he spoke on Thursday it was afternoon in Slovenia.

Despite the jarring news, all indications are that nothing has changed Doncic’s mind about signing the five-year, $201.5 million supermax contract extension for which he qualified after making the All-NBA team twice in his first three seasons as a Maverick.

After all, Doncic made $8 million this past season and will make $10.1 million next season — very good money, sure, but not the kind of wealth that future Doncic generations will be assured once the five-year extension kicks in after next season.

Aside from his brief comment about Nelson, Doncic mostly spoke about Slovenia’s bid to qualify for next month’s Olympics in Tokyo.

“It’s always an honor for me to play for Slovenia,” he told reporters. “Great locker room atmosphere.”

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