DALLAS - J.J. Barea is a hero due to his 2011 NBA Finals work, a fan favorite due to his community work, and a Luka Doncic favorite due to his personality and communication skills.
And after signing a deal to play one more season at the NBA minimum salary, as he had agreed to do previously, the Mavs had made the logical, albeit difficult decision to release him, clearing the way for the Mavs to hold on to newly signed Wes Iwundu, and their young second-round draft picks.
According to a report from ESPN's Tim MacMahon, the intention of signing the deal was to reward Barea for his intangible impact that he had for the organization over his 11 seasons with the team.
Barea, 36, was very much a part of the "fabric'' of the Mavs' locker-room culture and has developed a deep connection not only with Mark Cuban on the ownership level, and not only with Rick Carlisle on the coaching level but also with the Mavs' young first-team All-NBA superstar Doncic.
When Doncic first arrived in DFW, Barea was quick to embrace him, their shared ability to speak Spanish part of the bond. There is also value that JJB can bring on the court, though his minutes and numbers have been shrinking in recent years, especially as the Mavs have risen back into contention.
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But even the agreement to the contract - while providing some financial guarantee - did not necessarily provide a guaranteed of a roster spot to the aging vet.
With the collection of new draftees, Dallas was one man over the roster limit. That means once the Mavs get to training camp in preparation for the Dec. 22 start of the NBA season, barring injury, someone was going to get cut ... while still getting paid.
And now, Barea is that man.
If the Mavs believe in second-round rookie Tyrell Terry as they say they do (complete with the thought that he might soon blossom into a Seth Curry replacement), and if they believe in another young guard in Jalen Brunson (as they do), and if they believe in another play-alike in Trey Burke (and they might) ... the backcourt of smallish contributors was already quite full, making the move to let go of Barea easier to absorb.
In theory, Barea could take his salary ... and then possibly remain with the Mavs in another capacity, perhaps as a member of the coaching staff, in which case his connections - with Doncic and the rest - can continue, even without a uniform.
That said, according to the report from MacMahon, Barea has the intention of playing this season in the event he is able to catch on with another team.
As a veteran locker room presence, Barea could very well be welcomed to join the bench of a contender, after averaging 7.7 points and nearly four assists in 29 appearances for Dallas last season.