Well it sure does seem like the Mavs are trying to get the band back together. On Wednesday it was announced that J.J. Barea, bought out by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, would rejoin the Mavs. Gal Mekel was released to make room for Barea. Barea will be available for tonight's game against the Utah Jazz.
The Puerto Rican native spent the first five seasons of his career with the Mavs after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2006, before joining the Timberwolves in 2011. He'll sport number 5, as Monta Ellis is wearing his old number 11 now.
Barea was an integral part of the Mavericks' championship run in 2011, averaging 8.9 points and 3.4 assists in just over 18 minutes per game in the playoffs. However, after the run was over Barea left for Minnesota, signing a 4-year, $18 million deal.
The diminutive point guard had two decent seasons in Minnesota, but this past year he struggled mightily, and there were rumors that he wasn't getting along with other guys in the locker room. He averaged 8.4 points per game (down from 11.3 ppg in his first two seasons in Minny), and shot just 38.7% from the floor.
I'm sure people will be excited that Barea is back in town, but I think it's unrealistic to expect anything like what we saw from him in the spring of 2011. Yes, Barea was a decent player in Dallas, but he hasn't come close to his 2011 shooting percentage in the past three seasons with Minnesota, and he's seen a steady decline in assists and minutes per game. Was this because of his locker room issues with other Timberwolves, or was it because they quickly realized that his size was too great a defensive liability to overcome?
With the current state of the Mavs' backcourt, I'm not sure how much time Barea will get. I'd be surprised if he saw the 18-23 minutes per game he's been accustomed to over his career, with Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris, Monta Ellis, and (when he's not suspended) Raymond Felton all ahead of him.
Frankly, this signing just doesn't make much sense. He's a small guy that struggles to play defense, and for a backcourt that's already lacking defensively, this move doesn't really seem to help Dallas at all. Sure, it's cool to get a member of the 2011 championship team back, I get it. But DeShawn Stevenson was by far my favorite role player on that squad, and if Dallas went out and got him I'm pretty sure I'd light my mini championship banner on fire. But hey, at least he's a guard that can play defense.
Is Barea a more polished player than Mekel? Sure. A better fit for this team? I'm not convinced. Not to beat a dead horse, but Barea is listed at 6' tall. Mekel is 6-foot-3.
I wanted to see Gal get his shot, personally, but that won't happen now. Not in Dallas, anyway. Reports now are that Mekel, once he clears waivers, will take his time deciding which team he wants to sign with, and why wouldn't he? Cuban still owes him $1.76 million over the next two seasons.
So Barea is a Dallas Maverick once again, and while some fans are happy, I am not. I'll stop beating the dead horse now, so let me know in the comments, do you feel the same way?