Buzz: J.J. Barea ponders what could've been

January, 14, 2013
1/14/13
7:25
PM CT
DALLAS -- This will be the first time J.J. Barea plays at the American Airlines Center since Game 5 of the 2011 Finals.

If it were up to him, he'd still have a stall in the home locker room here.

That's not how it happened, however. Barea, who has been injured during the Timberwolves two previous trips to Dallas since his departure from the Mavs, didn't get a multiyear contract offer from the then-defending champions, like the rest of the Mavs' post-lockout free agents. He wasn't willing to make the immense financial sacrifice of turning down Minnesota's four-year, $19 million offer to take an offer from the Mavs that looked tiny by comparison.

No matter how badly Barea wanted to stay with the Mavs, he felt he had to leave, a situation he admits bothers him to this day.

"No question, that crosses my mind every day," said Barea, who is averaging 10.9 points and 4.5 assists this season. "What could have been? We're never going to find out. But it's just something that you've got to live with and let it go."

Mavs owner Mark Cuban has nothing but appreciation for Barea, saying he feels a "special connection" with the fiery, undersized point guard he signed as an undrafted free agent out of "Never, Never Land," aka Northeastern University. Barea spent his first five NBA seasons with the Mavs, carving out a significant role in the last few seasons.

"I know he wanted to stay," Cuban said. "Look, I'm disappointed, too. I didn't make up the rules. I'm just trying to figure them out."

Barea, who still keeps in touch with several of his former teammates and members of the Mavs' support staff, will surely be greeted with a warm welcome.

He's also sure to hear a familiar line from Cuban, who will be in his usual baseline seat: "Who let that baby on the court?!"

That was a Clipper Darrell classic, shouted in a dead-quiet Staples Center during a Mavs rout of the Clippers. It became one of the favorite punchlines for the 2010-11 title team.

When the Timberwolves came to town last season on the night of the Mavs' ring ceremony, a high chair was waiting for Barea in the visitors' locker room, a gift for the son his former Miss Universe girlfriend soon delivered, with a little double meaning.

A Timberwolves uniform was waiting on Barea this time, and he readily admitted he has a little extra motivation.

"You know he'll be throwing up 3s and trying to take over the game," Cuban said. "J.J.'s a great guy. He's just a really, really good guy. Other than when he plays us, you always want him to do well."

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Rick Carlisle

Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.

Galloway & Company: Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Mark Cuban talk

Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Marc Stein

Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: The Standoff

Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Ramona Shelburne

ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Buy or sell

Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Marc Stein

ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Dalembert 6.8
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.2