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Luka Doncic denies reports that he may request a trade from the Mavericks, and reassures fans and the organization that he's happy in Dallas. (1:15)
DALLAS — All-Star guard Luka Doncic attempted to ease concerns about his long-term commitment to the franchise after the Dallas Mavericks' disappointing season ended Sunday.
"I'm happy here, so there's nothing to worry [about]," Doncic said after sitting out the Mavericks' 138-117 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
The Mavs finished 38-44 and 11th in the Western Conference — the franchise's first losing season since Doncic's rookie year in 2017-18 — to miss the postseason despite making a blockbuster midseason trade to acquire All-Star guard Kyrie Irving.
Doncic recently acknowledged that he was more frustrated than he had ever been during his five-year career, pointing to the Mavs' struggles and issues in his private life. He said Sunday that such frustration was "normal" when a team is losing as often as the Mavs were.
Dallas went 7-18 in the final two months of the season to fall from fourth place in the West standings to out of the postseason picture. The Mavs opted to sit several starters and key players the last two games — including Friday's loss to the Chicago Bulls, which eliminated Dallas from play-in contention — despite Doncic declaring earlier in the week that he would play as long as the team had even slim postseason hopes.
By losing the last two games, the Mavs finished with the 10th-best lottery odds, an important development with Dallas owing the New York Knicks a top-10-protected pick. The NBA is investigating the Mavs' "roster decisions and game conduct" against the Bulls, league spokesman Mike Bass said Saturday. Doncic played only 12 minutes and 35 seconds against the Bulls on Friday, then sat out Sunday's season finale.
"I didn't like that decision," Doncic said. "That's it."
Mavs governor Mark Cuban said on Wednesday that while he believes Doncic wants to spend his entire career in Dallas, the franchise has "got to earn" that kind of loyalty from the superstar.
ESPN reported after the Mavs were eliminated from play-in contention that there is fear within the organization that Doncic, who just finished the first year of a five-year, $215 million supermax contract that has a player option for the final season, could consider requesting a trade as soon as summer 2024 if significant progress is not made next season.
"It was funny, you know, because I didn't know that was true," said Doncic, who averaged a career-high 32.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.0 points per game this season. "I didn't say it."
While Doncic pushed back on the possibility of him eventually looking to leave Dallas, he expressed the need for the Mavs to have a productive offseason to position themselves to be competitive again.
"Something's got to change, for sure," Doncic said. "I mean, last year we went to Western Conference finals. We were having fun. I always talk about the chemistry we had. It was great. But something's got to change for sure."
Doncic declined to discuss changes he would like to see. He does hope he has the same backcourt partner next season, stating that he wants the Mavs to re-sign Irving in free agency, which Cuban called the team's top summer priority.
"I think it's a great fit," Doncic said. "Obviously people are going to say no [and] look at the results we are having, but like I said, chemistry and relationships takes time. I wish he can still be here."
The Mavs were only 5-11 in games Doncic and Irving played together, which is the worst winning percentage (.313) for a pair of teammates who were both All-Stars since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976-77, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Irving, who declared days after being traded to Dallas that he would not discuss his free agency until the end of the season, declined to participate in the team's exit interviews with the media.