Former Bill Simmons Podcast Guest Haralabos Voulgaris Causing Friction Between Luka Doncic, Mavericks [UPDATE]
By Liam McKeone
Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks found themselves on vacation early yet again this postseason, losing in the first round to the Los Angeles Clippers for the second year in a row. Doncic will be eligible for a maximum extension this offseason and, with his All-NBA selections, can sign a deal worth more than $200 million if the offer comes in from the Mavericks.
The franchise is obviously going to offer it to him, and Doncic is obviously going to take it, because who turns down that much money? Doncic had an exchange with reporters during his end-of-season interviews that proves as much.
However, all is not perfect in Dallas despite the fact that the NBA's best young superstar will be soon signing on for another five years with the Mavs. The Athletic published a big article on Monday detailing the friction between Doncic and the organization. Specifically, Doncic does not like Haralabos Voulgaris.
The question that comes first to pretty much everyone's mind: who the hell is Haralabos Voulgaris? The answer, in short, is that he's a former sports gambler who made millions before the turn of the century, lost a lot of money in the mid-2000s, then created an betting analytics model to help make his money back. Apparently, he pivoted that into an advisory role with the Mavericks and currently has Mark Cuban's ear. The reporting done by Sam Amick and Tim Cato is remarkable and describes precisely what Voulgaris' role is:
Dallas announced Voulgaris’ hiring in the fall of 2018 with a title — director of quantitative research and development — that vastly understated his actual role. Multiple league and team sources tell The Athletic that Voulgaris has been the most influential voice within the Mavericks front office since joining the team, either initiating or approving virtually every transaction made over the past two seasons. Those same sources add that Voulgaris has frequently gone as far as scripting the starting lineups and rotations for longtime head coach Rick Carlisle.
This is all certifiably insane, to be sure. Voulagaris is calling the shots to the point where he's telling Rick Carlisle what to do? And he has no basketball experience other than what he's learned from *checks notes* betting and analytical models? On top of all that, he's clashing with the present and future of the franchise who could easily become the best player in the league soon? None of that sounds good at all!
Voulgaris' name may sound familiar to some because he has appeared on several podcasts with the one and only Bill Simmons. He appeared in a professional gambling capacity, not a front office capacity, but he was definitely on there, most recently on the February 26, 2018 episode of Heat Check. Simmons calls him "Haralabob."
So there you have it. The Mavericks are pissing off a generational talent because Mark Cuban likes to listen to a guy who chopped it up with Bill Simmons about sports betting. What a world we live in.
UPDATE: Mark Cuban has responded to the reporting done by The Athletic and it was a succinct one: "Total bullsh-t."
UPDATE 2: More Cuban on the situation here.