Mac Engel

Despite giving up haul to Hawks, Dallas lucky to get Luka Doncic

Pulling off a lotto trade for a Euro worked for the Mavericks 20 years ago, so they did it again and will now commence praying they have their franchise bridge to a new era.

Credit to Mavs owner Mark Cuban and team President Donnie Nelson for finding their guy and doing whatever necessary to grab Luka Doncic.

Kinda wish they had this same intensity to pick Giannis Antetokounmpo, and no amount of therapy is going to convince me to let this one go.

"Luke Doncic was the guy we targeted," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.

Believe him. Of course, he would have said "Bubba Can't Make a Shot is the guy we targeted," had the Mavs picked that guy.

Nonetheless, a starting backcourt of Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic will be something worth repeatedly watching.

No one has a clue whether this Euro can actually play in the U.S.; at this point, no one has a clue as to Doncic's height. He's either 6-foot-5; 6-foot-6; 6-foot-7; 6-foot-9. Or, maybe, all the way to 6-feet-11.

As Carlisle noted on Thursday night, Doncic is only 19 and may not be done growing.

"I'm excited to be in the NBA; the game is quicker. The court is wider," Doncic said in a conference call.

A quick word: His game is a bit better than his English. Give both some time.

"I'm excited to play with those superstars," he said. "It's a great challenge for me."

The second pick of the night for the Mavs was Villanova guard Jalen Brunson, who was the 33rd selection. The Mavs selected SMU guard Shake Milton with the 54th pick.

But this draft for the Mavs is entirely about Doncic.

Given the way the Europeans have transitioned to the NBA since the Mavs bagged Dirk Nowitzki back in what feels like 1968, it's hard not to like this pick.

The only way this trade fails, immediately, is if we all expect Luka to be Dirk, simply because he's another Euro whom the Mavs acquired in a draft day swap 20 years later.

Dirk is Dirk, and there will never be another, as a player or a person.

Let Luka be Luka.

"We think he is a franchise foundation piece," Carlisle said. "This kid has won everything there is to win in European and international basketball."

To obtain Luka the Mavs dealt their first-round selection, No. 5 overall, and sent it to Atlanta in exchange for the rights to Doncic, who was selected with the third pick; the deal went through as long as the Mavs could select Oklahoma guard Trae Young.

The deal also includes the Mavs sending Atlanta a protected first-round pick in 2019.

The Mavs had a Skype session with Doncic recently and felt that, maybe, he would fall to them at five. When it became apparent there was no way he would remain unselected through the first four picks, they began to talk to trade with the Hawks.

No players, or their awful salaries, were included. Sorry, Mavs fans, Wesley Matthews is coming back. A source told me the Mavs were not going to take on bad contracts to complete this deal.

All that matters is Young will go to Atlanta, and Doncic will come to Texas.

Son, here's a crash course to make this transition easier: Start by befriending the owner. As a basketball player, this will be the easiest thing you've ever done. Then, learn football, and barbecue. After that, do whatever Dirk says or does.

The only real comparison that should exist between Dirk and Luka is how they were acquired.

In 1998, the Mavs selected Michigan forward Robert "Tractor" Traylor with the sixth overall pick. Shortly thereafter they traded him to Milwaukee, who had selected Dirk with the ninth pick.

Doncic is not Dirk; he's been compared more to San Antonio slasher Manu Ginobili. If Doncic is Manu, plan now for the jersey retirement ceremony.

The Mavs have not given us much to celebrate in years, but acquiring Doncic feels like it's a good reason to do just that.

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