Haralabos Voulgaris: Mavericks had old boys’ network

Former Mavericks president Donnie Nelson
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
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Haralabos Voulgaris burst to the forefront of the NBA conversation when The Athletic described him as the Mavericks’ shadow general manager in June.

Within days, Dallas ousted longtime general manager Donnie Nelson. Rick Carlisle resigned as Mavericks coach shortly after. Voulgaris, whom Dallas hired in 2018, also left.

Voulgaris on ESPN Daily:

I didn’t have a working relationship with other people in the front office at all, to the point where it was awkward. But that’s kind of the M.O. of the way that front office was run – surround yourself with people who are not threats. You don’t become an NBA general manager and hold onto your job for that long unless you are very, very good at keeping your job.

I wasn’t trying to change too much. I just want to make that very clear. I wanted to be a part of something. I wanted to win basketball games. Changing the organizational structure of the Dallas Mavericks was never something I was interested in, unless I was going to be the guy in charge, and I wasn’t even sure. I never actually wanted to be the guy in charge until it became clear that the guy in charge didn’t want me around. And then I was like, oh, OK, now it’s competitive.

Just to be very clear, the first two years, whatever, Donnie was very pleasant around me when I was there. It’s just, you hear certain things. You learn certain things. You’re told certain things. It was a very gossipy workplace. Very gossipy. It was like a sewing circle over there.

The way I saw it was that anyone who was talented and qualified was marginalized and it was kind of an old boys’ network of guys who were just kind of there to kind of collect checks and stick around.

This is an especially troubling characterization, because the Mavericks recently had a predatory-work-environment scandal. Disagreements over basketball are pretty silly in the grand scheme. But this sounds like the type of culture that allowed for more-serious misconduct.

These issues ultimately fall on Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. It’s on him to implement and maintain a properly functioning system.

Voulgaris is sharp. He brings a lot to the table as a basketball analyst. But he can be acerbic. He was going to thrive with Dallas only if thoughtfully integrated into the operation.

The Mavericks have a new general manager in Nico Harrison. But Dallas still has Cuban, who has yet another stain in his leadership coming to light.

I highly recommend listening to the full podcast. Voulgaris provides great perspective as an outsider who was inside an NBA team.