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Friday, October 1, 2010
Coach: Don't discount J.J. Barea

By Jeff Caplan

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas -- With the Dallas Mavericks investing so heavily in Roddy Beaubois as a backup point guard and rookie Dominique Jones turning heads at the two-guard, some might wonder if there's room for J.J. Barea.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has no doubt.

"He’s not a guy that people should write off by any stretch," Carlisle said.

It's hard to believe, but the diminutive Barea is entering his fifth season with the Mavs. He came to town as a long-shot rookie free agent out of Northeastern and has worked his way up to becoming a 20-minute-a-game player the past two seasons. He's provided solid backup play at the point and the two-guard and has performed well when called on to start.

"Go look at our team’s record when he starts at the 2," Carlisle said. "We’re winning about two-thirds of our games, at least. He’s proven who he is and what he can do. We need him."

Listed at 6-foot, but actually a few inches shorter, Barea knows he won't be the starting two-guard during the regular season with such a deep roster. That position will likely be filled by Caron Butlerat least until Beaubois is ready to return.  But, who knows? With Carlisle's sometimes wacky rotations, perhaps he uses Barea as the stop-gap starter until Beaubois is healthy.

Even Barea isn't sure how all the pieces will fit once the regular season rolls along. He knows he wants to be a big piece of Carlisle's rotation as he enters the final year on a contract set to pay him $1.8 million.

"I don’t know, that’s their job," Barea said of the coaches and divvying up minutes. "My job is to come out here every day and work my butt off, and whenever they put me in just be ready to play. You never know how they’re going to use me, but I just have to keep ready so when they call my name I’ll be ready."

Barea had a strong showing with the Puerto Rican national team at the FIBA World Championships last month, although the club did not advance out of pool play. He said he feels much better than he did coming into last year's camp following shoulder surgery.

Barea said he would jump at the chance to sign an extension now, but he knows the chances of one being offered during the season are remote.

There is always a chance that Barea's expiring contract could be used in a package for a trade. And, if not, the looming lockout would also suggest signing anything will likely have to wait until the labor situation is finalized. But, Barea said, there's no doubt where he wants to play.

"I want to stay here and [owner] Mark [Cuban] knows I want to stay here," Barea said. "I want to stay here my whole career if it's possible. I love it here. It's like my second home here in Dallas. We'll see what happens."

While he might not know exactly what his role will be on this Mavs team, he said it has the ingredients to put it all together this season.

"We have a lot of talent and we have depth," Barea said. "Tyson Chandler is going to be a great help. We've still got Dirk [Nowitzki] in his prime. We've got J-Kidd [Jason Kidd]. We just got to put it all together. We have to be more aggressive, we have to have more heart, have a lot more passion for the game; a little bit more of everything and I think we'll be all right.

"But, yeah, we've got the depth, we've got the talent, we've got the coaches."

*The Mavs will have one practice session Friday morning. Fan Jam is Monday night at 6:45 p.m. and the preseason opener is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday against Washington Wizards.