NBA

Luka Doncic lands 'dream' supermax rookie extension in Dallas

By Sports Desk August 09, 2021

Luka Doncic has become the first player to be handed a supermax rookie extension worth $207million, tying him to the Dallas Mavericks for a further five years.

Doncic qualifies for the landmark deal having already twice been named to the All-NBA First Team.

Bill Duffy, Doncic's agent, told ESPN of the agreement on Monday, while the player released a statement through the same publication.

"Today is a dream come true," he said. "The game of basketball has given me so much and has taken me to so many amazing places.

"I am humbled and excited to remain in Dallas as part of the Mavericks and appreciate the support of my fans."

Doncic, who is set to hold a news conference in Slovenia on Tuesday, added he would be expanding The Luka Doncic Foundation.

The 22-year-old is in Slovenia having led his country to the semi-finals of the men's basketball tournament at the Tokyo Olympics.

The European champions were Games debutants but came within a clutch Nicolas Batum block of reaching the gold medal game.

Doncic led the competition in a number of categories across the board, including points (143), assists (57) and minutes played (196).

His triple-double against France in the last four was the third in Games history, but the point forward suffered the first defeat of his international career and then lost again to Australia in the bronze medal game.

Focus will now return to the NBA, where Doncic will hope his individual excellence can inspire improved results for the Mavs.

Dallas have not won a playoff series since they were champions 10 years ago, despite Doncic's outstanding displays taking the Los Angeles Clippers to six and then seven games in the past two seasons.

Doncic has scored 33.5 points per game across those two postseason series – no player in NBA history has played at least 13 playoff games and averaged more.

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  • BREAKING NEWS: Man Utd agree Casemiro deal in principle BREAKING NEWS: Man Utd agree Casemiro deal in principle

    Manchester United have agreed a deal in principle to sign midfielder Casemiro from Real Madrid for a fee in the region of £60million.

    The Brazil international is set to become the fourth arrival of this window after Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez.

    Casemiro, who had three years remaining on his contract with Madrid, brings plenty of quality and experience to Erik ten Hag's midfield after racking up over 300 appearances during nine trophy-filled years at Santiago Bernabeu.

    Indeed, the 30-year-old won five Champions Leagues with Los Blancos - scoring against Juventus in the 2017 final - as well as four LaLiga titles and three Club World Cups.

    Casemiro struggled to nail down a regular spot following his move to Madrid from Sao Paulo in 2013; spending the 2014-15 season on loan at Portuguese giants Porto.

    However, he did not look back after cementing his place in the starting line-up during the 2015-16 campaign, with no midfielder winning more tackles in LaLiga since then (415).

    The Brazilian has also completed 368 interceptions in the past seven seasons - with Dani Garcia (399) the sole midfielder to better that tally - while Dani Parejo (1,666) and Sergio Busquets (1,504) were the only players in his position to win possession on more occasions than him (1,462).

  • Casemiro signing will not resolve Man Utd's problems, warns Saha Casemiro signing will not resolve Man Utd's problems, warns Saha

    Casemiro's imminent arrival at Old Trafford will greatly enhance Manchester United's midfield options but will not resolve all of the club's problems.

    That is according to former United striker Louis Saha, who also told Stats Perform that Cristiano Ronaldo was wrong to ask for a move.

    Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti confirmed on Friday that Casemiro is set to leave the Santiago Bernabeu, with United reported to have agreed a £51million (€60m) fee.

    Casemiro, a five-time Champions League winner with Madrid, is one of a number of midfielders to have been linked with the Red Devils.

    Having appeared to have missed out on Frenkie de Jong and Adrien Rabiot, Casemiro's move to Old Trafford could be completed as early as this weekend.

    While the Brazil international will bring a number of qualities to United, Saha believes his former side's issues run far deeper than simply bringing in a new midfielder.

    United find themselves bottom of the Premier League for the first time since August 1992, which is the only previous occasion they lost their opening two games in the competition.

    "It's a massive signing," Saha said. "But it is not a midfielder, it is not a striker, it is not a defender, goalkeeper or other transfers that are going to solve United’s problems. 

    "So don't be stupid in thinking, 'Oh, okay, we signed the big player who won the Champions League a few times, all our problems will be solved'. 

    "He'll really help the strikers to feel more confident that they have a certain kind of base that helps a team that wants to win titles. But he won't solve every player’s problems."

    Casemiro is set to become United's fourth signing of the window following the arrivals of Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez.

    A number of first-team players have exited Old Trafford since the end of last season, meanwhile, with Paul Pogba the highest-profile departure to date.

    The future of Ronaldo remains in the balance ahead of the September 1 deadline, although a number of teams have opted out of making an approach for the forward.

    Ronaldo is reported to have asked for a transfer just a year after rejoining United, which Saha believes has left the Red Devils in a difficult situation.

    "I respect so much Cristiano and I think he's in this bracket as such a special player that I completely understand the way to manage this is not easy," he said.

    "Cristiano's a massive player and got 24 goals last year. That has a massive impact on the opposition because they fear him.

    "It's a difficult position. But on the same terms, we can recognise that he has put the club in a very difficult situation, because he hasn't maybe spoken out at the right moment.

    "I think the timing and the essence of this could have been kept a bit more private, until the deal is done or nearly done because of the respect that you have about the situation. 

    "The manager is trying to build a team, and you're saying you're unsettled and you want to leave. It's really hard. I don't think that he was right."

    Ronaldo scored 18 Premier League goals last season – only Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min (both 23) scored more – and netted a team-high 24 in all competitions.

    Bruno Fernandes was the only other United player to reach double figures, finding the back of the net 10 times.

    Saha, who won four trophies in five seasons with United, feels it is down to others to step up rather than Ronaldo if the five-time Ballon d'Or winner stays.

    "He got 24 goals last season and shut all the criticism in terms of his personal ability, and that was in a team not playing well," Saha said.

    "He is the only goalscorer who's got more than 10 goals, which is a joke. I mean, that's not normal. 

    "No other players could support when he wasn't scoring. We've seen bits from Bruno Fernandes, who is a bit of a shadow of the player he was before the arrival of Cristiano. 

    "The club and the other players haven't performed to facilitate a good rehabilitation for Cristiano Ronaldo's comeback."

  • Is Casemiro the midfielder Man Utd need? Is Casemiro the midfielder Man Utd need?

    It is easy to imagine how Manchester United landed on Casemiro's name in the week that followed their shambolic 4-0 defeat at Brentford.

    United were preyed upon by the Brentford press, giving up three chances and two goals from high turnovers as Christian Eriksen – a false nine in their previous match – ended up as the deepest midfielder and struggled badly.

    Through two games, no Premier League side have allowed more shots following high turnovers than United (eight).

    At the very least, Casemiro – a five-time Champions League winner anchoring one of the great modern midfields at Real Madrid – should make United harder to play against.

    Yet the 30-year-old, whose arrival at Old Trafford appears imminent, possesses a vastly different profile to the previous two midfielders United very publicly pursued – ultimately unsuccessfully.

    The progression from Frenkie de Jong to Adrien Rabiot to Casemiro was not a particularly obvious one, but have the Red Devils now ended up with the right man?

    No more 'McFred'

    Few United fans who have seen their 'McFred' midfield repeatedly overrun in recent seasons would complain about the club recruiting an upgrade on Fred.

    The numbers would suggest that is what they are buying in Casemiro, who is comparable to his Brazil team-mate by several metrics.

    Only two LaLiga midfielders made more recoveries than Casemiro (230) last season, yet his 8.0 per 90 were topped by Fred's 8.7. Fred matched Casemiro for tackles per 90 (both 2.8) and edged him in terms of interceptions (1.4 to 1.3).

    However, Casemiro's physical presence ensured he won 59.7 per cent of his duels, far outperforming Fred's 47.8 per cent.

    And the Madrid man, crucially, is more effective with the ball once he has won it.

    Carlo Ancelotti's side attempted 43 shots at the end of sequences that started with Casemiro recovering possession, seeing the midfielder lead LaLiga in this regard and trail only Marcelo Brozovic (44) across Europe's top five leagues.

    Although just 27.6 per cent of Casemiro's passes were played forward – versus Fred's 30.4 per cent – he was at the heart of so many Madrid attacks.

    Casemiro played 34 passes to players who immediately created chances for team-mates, which compared very favourably with Rabiot (12), Scott McTominay (18), Fred (19) and, indeed, De Jong (22).

    Carrying United's hopes

    There was an obvious appeal to the attempted signing of De Jong, who would have offered something different to the United midfield.

    Highly skilled with the ball at his feet, De Jong's carries progressed the play 113.6 metres upfield per 90 last season. United's five midfielders (Fred, McTominay, Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek) have progressed the ball only 384m combined so far this season – or 192m per 90.

    Casemiro clearly cannot offer this dynamism either, given he carried the ball just 54.3m upfield per 90 last term.

    And United could seemingly still benefit from a player of De Jong's talents, as Casemiro is used to being able to rely on others in midfield to fulfil this role; he was by far Madrid's least progressive midfield carrier in 2021-22, behind Toni Kroos (80.6m), Luka Modric (85.7m), Eduardo Camavinga (91.1m) and Federico Valverde (133.3m).

    But considering the difficulties in getting that deal done with Barcelona, United's scattergun approach has at least – via Rabiot – picked out a player capable of helping them both with and without the ball.

    No Premier League team has conceded more goals at this early stage than United, while they have only netted themselves courtesy of an own goal.

    One man alone may not be able to get United's season back on track, but Casemiro is primed to give it a good go.

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