It almost feels like clockwork in the NBA these days. A player gets drafted, breaks out in his first few seasons, the team underperforms, then we hear chatters that the player is unhappy. Or, if you live in Boston, the team underperforms and the media tries to drive the player out of town. Either way, we have entered an age of NBA player empowerment overload. The latest player who is reportedly unhappy: Luka Doncic. While the reports got some Celtics fans excited for a potential Luka Doncic-Celtics trade, reality tells us that there is no chance of this happening.
Luka Doncic is the best player in the NBA under the age of 25 and a top ten player in the league overall. In just his age 21 season, he averaged almost 28/8/9 on 48/35/73 shooting, while carrying a weak Mavericks lineup to a fifth seed in the Western Conference. The scary thing is that Luka likely hasn’t even reached his prime yet. We haven’t even begun to see what Luka could look like as a fully polished player.
Having made the All-NBA First Team last year, Luka is eligible to sign a super-max extension this offseason. That extension could be worth north of $200 million and would be an NBA record for a player on his rookie contract. There is almost no doubt that Luka will be offered that extension and even less doubt that he will accept. In his exit interview after the season, he was asked if he would accept and told the reporter, “I think you know the answer.”
This deal would keep him in Dallas through the 2026-2027 season. However, if his doubts for the future of the Mavericks franchise are legit, he could force his way out of there sooner than that. Every team in the league would welcome a player like Luka with open arms, but the cost would surely be outrageous for a player of his caliber at his age. This is why Celtics fans should not get their hopes up.
Any potential Luka Doncic-Celtics trade would start and end with Jayson Tatum. The Mavericks would almost certainly demand at least Tatum, in addition to other assets. For the Celtics, the idea would be to pair Luka with Tatum for the future, a duo that would be right up there with the best in the NBA. No combination of Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, or any draft picks would get the deal done.
Again, it is hard to imagine Luka leaving the Mavericks anytime within the next couple of seasons, but we have seen dozens of stars before him do just that. While it is fun to speculate and pray that a player like him lands on your favorite team, the energy of Celtics fans would be better spent thinking about who their next head coach will be rather than the pipe dream of all pipe dreams in Doncic.
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