Getty Images

The sting of not winning the NBA Finals will linger for the Dallas Mavericks, but just as swiftly as the Boston Celtics took care of them in five games to claim their 18th championship, Dallas must now turn its attention towards the future. Specifically free agency, and how to improve the roster around Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving with hopes of trying to get back to the NBA Finals. As the Mavericks prepare for that, they'll be doing so with some organizational clarity, as ESPN's Tim MacMahon reports that Mark Cuban no longer has control of basketball operations.

This news comes after Cuban sold his majority stake in the Mavericks back in November 2023 to the Adelson family, making Patrick Dumont the new governor of the Mavericks. When the deal was announced, it was reported that Cuban would retain control of basketball operations, while Dumont and the Adelsons handled the business side of things, like building a new arena for the Mavericks, something Cuban has been interested in for years. But seven months after that deal was finalized, it appears as though Cuban's role is becoming more diminished, which isn't necessarily a bad thing for the Mavericks.

Nico Harrison, the team's president of basketball operations and general manager, now reports directly to Dumont, after reporting to Cuban previously. And while Cuban's voice will still carry some weight in roster decisions, he may no longer have the final say on trades, draft selections or free agency signings. But while this may raise some eyebrows for those who associate Cuban with the lead decision maker for the Mavericks, Harrison has more than proved he has what it takes to build a championship-contending team. Harrison was the architect behind the trade deadline deals that catapulted the Mavericks on the path of the NBA Finals, acquiring PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford while moving quickly to move Grant Williams, a free agency signing from last summer that proved unsuccessful. 

While Harrison led the charge in signing Williams, too, his quick recognition that the deal didn't work out and his immediate addition of a better piece in Washington were savvy moves. He also pulled off the draft night deal that got the Mavericks off Davis Bertans' cumbersome contract and landed them Dereck Lively II, who, after a standout rookie season, is looking like a franchise center for the Mavericks. 

Dumont rewarded Harrison's smart decisions over the last year by signing him to a contract extension right before the Finals started, ensuring he'll remain in charge of the Mavericks' future decisions. Coach Jason Kidd also received a contract extension, too. This gives the Mavericks a streamlined organizational chart after years of wondering who had the loudest voice in the war room when former president Donnie Nelson was in charge. There were previous reports that former team executive Haralabos Voulgaris held influence and had Cuban's ear in major roster and lineup decisions made by the team when he was with the franchise from 2018 to 2021.

To put it plainly, Dallas' front office seemed a little dysfunctional. With Cuban taking a step back, Harrison will be able to assume full control of basketball decisions going forward. He's already got the co-sign of the most important player in the franchise -- Doncic. After the Mavericks lost to the Celtics in the Finals on Monday night, Doncic was asked how he felt about the state of the franchise.

"I feel great, we did some great moves," Doncic said. "I would say, you know, we've been together for five months. I'm proud of every guy that stepped on the floor, all the coaches and all the people behind. Obviously, we didn't win the Finals, but we did have a hell of a season, and I'm proud of every one of them."

Doncic's comments are a testament to the complete 180-degree turn the Mavericks have done over the past year, because of Harrison's roster moves. A year ago, there were reports that the Mavericks were concerned that Doncic could request a trade this summer if the team didn't make serious headway in competing for a championship. That was after a year in which the Mavericks failed to make the play-in tournament by waving the white flag with two games left in the regular season, sending them to the draft lottery. And while one Finals appearance won't be enough to keep a star like Doncic happy, it does buy Dallas some time to retool this roster to try and get back there with him at the center.

While Cuban's been the most recognizable team owner since buying the franchise in 2000, after years of stagnant results, it was clear there was a need for a change in terms of who was pulling the trigger on the Mavs roster moves. Now it sounds like that's happening, and it couldn't come at a better time for a Mavericks franchise that is on the upswing after making their first Finals appearance since 2011.