As Mavs Prepare for Summer League, Doncic’s Debut Uncertain

CBS Sports

The national debut of one of this seasons most talked about draft picks remains in flux as the Dallas Mavericks prepare for Summer League play.

Luka Doncic, the highly touted and decorated European player as well as the Mavs’ #3 draft pick this year, may or may not play during the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League 2018, which will tip-off Friday, July 6 in Las Vegas. The Summer Leagues are typically the time when all the draft picks showcase their talents and skills before a worldwide audience and the NBA itself.

The Mavericks will open the preliminary round against the Phoenix Suns on Friday at 8:30 p.m. CT.

Doncic has been present at the Mavs Practice Facility this week putting up baskets but has not participated in any live practices, said Head Coach Rick Carlisle.

They are waiting for his buyout from Real Madrid to be completed, receipt of his FIBA clearance letter, and he needs his physical completed and contract signed, said Carlisle on Thursday shortly before the Mavericks left for Vegas.

“We’re getting close to getting those things done but we’re not there yet,” Carlisle continued. “He has not had a live practice yet but he will be in Vegas. He will continue to ramp us his workload and there remains a possibility that he could play.

“But to what percentage I could guarantee that, I just can’t. I’m not going to go there. Remember, this guy just got done playing 10 days ago or whatever. This is the set of facts that we are looking at.”

Doncic Luka – he has spent some time with Dennkis Smith Jr. already in the gym when he arrived in Dallas on Friday night.  He’s a great guy. really looking forward to playing with him.

Said Doncic this week after Summer League practice when asked if he will play, “I don’t know yet. Maybe I’ll play one game. It’s their decision. They said I need rest from the long season but they will make the decision.”

Doncic was drafted third overall by the Atlanta Hawks, then traded to the Mavs for Trae Young and a protected 2019 first-round draft choice in what has to be the steal of the night and the draft.

Doncic (6-7, 218) is the reigning EuroLeague Most Valuable Player and EuroLeague Final 4 Most Valuable Player after leading Real Madrid to the 2017-18 EuroLeague title. He was the youngest player ever to garner both awards. In 33 games with Real Madrid last season, he averaged 16.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists while shooting .443 from the field, .329 from behind-the-arc and .816 from the foul line.

His success with the EuroLeague this season may also be a factor in his potential absence from Summer League action.

“It’s to be determined. He’s played so many games already. We’ve seen what he’s done. The great thing for him is he is very experienced in a lot of ways when it comes to games being played,” said Mavs Summer League Coach and regular season assistant coach Jamahl Mosley.

There’s an excitement that he’s part of this organization and is going to grow and build whether he’s on the court now or in summer league. He’s going to learn through film, weight room, working out with our guys. There’s going to be so many pieces that he’s going to learn.”

Another player who is guaranteed to play is the Mavs second-round pick, Jalen Brunson, who led the Villanova Wildcats to NCAA titles in 2016 and this past season. Brunson averaged 18.9 points and 4.6 assists this past season while winning the Bob Cousy Award, which is given to the nation’s top point guard.

“He is a worker, a hard worker and a professional already,” said Coach Mosley. “He is very cerebral in his approach and how he goes about the game. He will be good for our guys in understanding national championships and the work ethic that it takes and he fits right in with how we want to play and how we want to conduct our organization.”

“I’m excited, real excited,” said Brunson. These are a great group of guys. We’re talking and getting on the same page. I’m willing to learn and get better every day.”

And on winning two titles in 3 years and how that will help him in Summer League play and later in the regular season? “It’s the same mindset. I try to be the best player I can be every day. I just focus on what can I do to get better.”

For the first time since its inception, all 30 NBA teams will compete in MGM Resorts NBA Summer League. With each franchise represented, the event will expand to 12 days and 82 games. Teams will play three preliminary games before being seeded in a tournament that concludes with the Championship Game on Tuesday, July 17. Each club will play at least five games and as many as eight.

The Mavericks will open the preliminary round against the Phoenix Suns on Friday, July 6 at 8:30 p.m. CT. They will then face the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, July 8 at 6 p.m. CT, and the Golden State Warriors on Monday, July 9 at 6:30 p.m. CT, before being seeded in the tournament.

All games will be held at the Thomas & Mack Center and COX Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. ESPN will carry Dallas’ summer-league opener against Phoenix, while NBA TV will televise the Mavericks’ games against Milwaukee and Golden State.

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