After DeAndre Jordan reneged on the Mavericks on the eve of the free agent moratorium, free agent shooting guard Wesley Matthews -- who committed to Dallas expecting to play with Jordan -- got an even better deal with the team. A deal that was already lucrative for a player coming off an achilles injury went from $57 million to $70 million.
That contract might have been questionable but after the Mavs' prize free agent walked away, but they had to spend their money somewhere. Now it appears one of the team's returning guards has also landed himself a raise thanks to the Jordan decision.
J.J. Barea announced on Thursday that he had signed a new four-year deal with the team and ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported the contract would be worth $16 million total. As far as we know, the deal does not include any options or non-guaranteed money.
The Mavs were planning to bring the diminutive guard back by signing him through the room exception at about $2.8 million for two seasons.
Barea was a key contributor for the Mavs in the playoffs and helped make their first round loss to Houston respectable. And the renegotiated deal might still look modest compared to other free agent contracts handed out this offseason. But it's still a significant amount for a guy who is either a third-string or second-string point guard, depending on where the team uses Devin Harris.
More significantly, Dallas apparently used cap space to bring Barea back on the new deal, which limits their options to improve the squad through free agent signings or by absorbing contracts via trade. As free agency guru Bobby Marks pointed out on Twitter, the contract leaves the Mavs with about $3.6 million in cap room as well as the room exception to address remaining needs on the court.
Adding a backup center and depth on the wing were arguably much more pressing needs than re-signing Barea. And the deal likely makes it impossible to pry K.J. McDaniels away from the Rockets.
The Barea contract was panned by several NBA observers Thursday.
Given how small guards who rely on quickness age, can't say a 4-yr deal for one who just turned 31 is a great idea. https://t.co/8d6bZDG328— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) July 16, 2015
@kpelton new pick for worst contract of the off season. Just no need.— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) July 16, 2015
Haha I’m sorry just pulled over to grab some gas. The Mavs gave HOW much money to JJ Barea?— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) July 16, 2015
There are good arguments that retaining Barea was an important step for the Mavericks as they enter next season with significant turnover for the fourth straight year. He's not a perfect player but the Dallas offense was better with him on the court than off the court last season. And he posted an impressive 3.76 to 1 assist/turnover ratio. He also can add an occasional scoring punch on a squad whose bench looks thinner than it has in years.
J.J. is a fan favorite from his first stint with the team and he's incredibly effective in his role. But for the Mavs, that should be a limited role as a spark plug off the bench. And as valuable as he is in Dallas, it's doubtful whether other teams would have offered him the same money. So, the deal is a bit of a head scratcher, especially after the team managed to sign former Net Deron Williams to a modest (for a starting point guard) $5 million annual salary with a team option for 2016-2017.
Hopefully, the Mavericks front office has some other tricks up its sleeve after adding two starters in Williams and Zaza Pachulia seemingly out of thing air over the last week. The Barea deal has made it more difficult to improve the roster by brining back a player who will help next season but won't be essential over the long-term.