J.J. Barea spent the majority of the 2016-2017 season nursing a calf injury that cost him 47 games. Despite missing over half the season, Barea made the most of his limited time on the court by averaging 10.9 points, 5.5 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 22 minutes per game (all higher than his career averages) in 35 games played. Simply put, he showed that he can still be a factor for this team in the immediate future, if the Dallas Mavericks want him to be.
Barea will turn 33 years old this summer, and you get the feeling that his remaining time with the Mavs is limited given this season’s injection of youth. Barea’s injuries, along with the release of Deron Williams, opened the door for undrafted rookie point guard Yogi Ferrell (23 years old) to show what he had to offer. Ferrell is what you’d call a “next gen J.J. Barea.” In almost the same amount of games played (36) for the Mavericks this season, Ferrell’s numbers were eerily similar to Barea’s, as he averaged 11.3 points, 4.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game. Although change is imminent in the next year or so, Barea proved that he can still be “that guy” when his name is called upon. Barea’s March 19th performance against the Brooklyn Nets is a prime example of how he still has the ability to take control of games every now and then.
When Dallas opted to sign Barea to a 4-year, $16 million dollar contract two years ago, the general consensus was, “Holy crap, that’s a lot of money for a 30-year-old backup point guard.” On the other hand though, a lot of people were happy to see the fan-favorite stick around for long time. Dallas has always had a deep connection with Barea, and he will always be remembered for helping the 2011 Mavs win the NBA Finals, after Carlisle inserted him into the starting lineup in Game 4.
The NBA’s salary cap was set at $70 million when Barea signed his deal with the Mavs. Since then the salary cap has risen considerably, with the 2017-2018 season salary cap expected to be around $101 million. That alone makes Barea’s contract seem much more reasonable, especially given what he produces when he’s able to play.
Barea now has 2 years remaining on his current contract, where he’ll make a little under $4 million each year. If the Mavs decide they no longer need Barea’s services, due to the arrival of the young up-and-coming guards (Yogi, Seth Curry, and potentially the Mavs’ 1st-round draft pick), his contract would be an easy one to include in a trade, especially in the 2018-2019 season when it becomes an expiring contract.
I think we’ll see J.J. Barea play out the remainder of his contract with the Mavs. Even if Dallas decides to have Barea take a back seat to some of the younger talent on the roster, it’s hard to envision Mark Cuban trading away a guy that’s so beloved in the community. Besides, Barea is good for the team culture. He’s a great locker room guy and works extremely hard.
Given that he went undrafted in the 2006 NBA Draft, Barea is a great example for the undrafted players on this roster to follow. Yogi Ferrell, Dorian Finney-Smith and Nicolas Brussino are all undrafted guys that are trying to make a name for themselves. They should all be inspired by the career that Barea has carved out for himself.
Even though Barea’s replacement is now staring him in the face, I think he’ll adapt well to the mentoring role. If anything, his time in Dallas will end similarly to that of Jason Terry’. His contract will eventually expire, and Dallas will simply move on. Until then though, let’s enjoy having this guy around for a little while longer.