DALLAS - Long-time Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea - as coach Rick Carlisle has often noted the last connection to the franchise's 2011 NBA championship - is a free agent ... with a new team.
JJB is headed overseas after coming to terms with Argentine team Estudiantes to play in Spain’s Liga Endesa, as our pal Marc Stein wrote the news on Friday.
Dallas signed JJB one last time this fall, creating a way to pay him a $2.6 million guaranteed contract despite not expecting him to make the roster. They wanted to reward him for his contributions to the team.
“He was a huge part of that championship,” GM Donnie Nelson said when the Mavs released Barea at the end of camp. “I think it was really more of an appreciation of J.J. and the amazing things he’s done throughout his career is why we brought him back as the 16th player on the roster and gave him a thank you of sorts.”
Barea has been the subject of discussion in regard to joining the Mavs as a staffer or coach, in part because he was valuable in helping Luka Doncic make the off-the-court transition to America and the NBA. But the 36-year-old said on that retirement day, “I want to make sure everybody knows I want to play. Anything could happen this year, with the COVID, injuries. I might be back here in Dallas playing. I’ve seen it all in the NBA. I’ve seen some crazy stuff.”
The 14-year veteran did not see that opportunity unfold, though in theory it still could depending on when he finishes his overseas commitment.
JJB, who began his pro career in his home of Puerto Rico, has often represented Puerto Rico in international competitions. And now he's going international again.
“It’s been an amazing time here in Dallas,'' said JJB on that final day, maybe closing the books on a story-book NBA career that saw the 5-10 undrafted kid average 8.9 points and 3.9 assists in 831 games. “It still hasn’t hit me. I wouldn’t change anything. This city saw me as a kid. This city saw me grow up.”
And now the city watches him move on.
CONTINUE READING: Doncic & Brunson Clutch As Mavs Beat Spurs, 122-117