A hamstring injury has put the future of the Brooklyn Nets star's 2020 postseason in jeopardy. In 2018, a 3-1 series lead against the Golden State Warriors couldn't save him, and he hasn't even been close to the NBA Finals since 2012.
The first-round clash between Doncic and the Los Angeles Clippers, hampered by short-term memory and a reliance on the winners to recollect history, will eventually shrivel up and wither away, dissolving into the subconscious in the same way that the Thunder did.
After his Herculean performances and deconstruction of one of the league's most feared perimeter defensive duos, it seems inevitable that we will all one day live in Luka's world. Unfortunately, it's been far too simple for everyone to believe that chance will present itself again. Lady Luck isn't precisely monogamous, as history has proved.
Opportunity comes knocking in the league, but only once in a while. And it doesn't appear that Cuban or the Mavericks were home to answer the door. It's absurd to think that a team could win three road games in a postseason series and still lose. Now, while the Mavericks try to figure out what to do next, one thing is sure: once Doncic's rookie deal expires, it will become increasingly challenging to create a team around him.
Doncic, who is still on his rookie contract, earned a little more than $8 million last season. Before the first year of what is expected to be a $195 million maximum agreement with the Mavs kicks in, he will make around $10 million next season. As a result, Dallas will struggle to create or maintain considerable salary cap room in the future unless it strikes gold with other young players on rookie contracts or somehow acquires players who outperform their value.
The argument is that it's usually easier to surround a player with a solid supporting cast while they're still on their rookie contract. So in that regard, the Mavericks are running out of time.
In the NBA, the key to managing cap space and using it to construct a contender is to take advantage of it while your superstars and anchors are still under contract. For example, if Curry hadn't signed a four-year, $44 million contract after his rookie deal expired, the Warriors would never have had the cap space to sign Durant.
Cuban and his team have a busy offseason ahead of them. Time is ticking, and if they don't do something substantial this offseason to move the franchise forward, Luka Doncic may be left behind.