by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni
After his shocking star turn in last season’s NBA Playoffs, which helped net the Dallas Mavericks their first championship ever, JJ Barea’s free agent value increased considerably.
There was talk — talk from Barea himself, even — that he could jump ship, and sign with another title contender in the League.
The latest indication from the diminutive star, though, is that continuing to play in Dallas suits him just fine.
Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea, a first-time free agent whenever the NBA lockout is lifted, strongly believes he will be back to defend the franchise’s first championship. “If you want to go by percentages, I think 75 percent I’ll be back in Dallas and 25 percent something else happens,” Barea said, now back home in Puerto Rico after a bid to qualify for the 2012 Olympics fell painfully short with a semifinals loss to host country Argentina at the FIBA Americas Tournament. “… My first option is going to be Dallas.”
“It’s definitely frustrating, but things happen,” Barea said. “If the lockout wasn’t here I’d have a contract already and I’d know where I was going. But, things happen and you just have to stay positive with it and I’m staying ready.”
Barea, 27, completed the most successful season of his career, averaging career highs in scoring (9.5), assists (3.9), rebounds (2.0) and minutes (20.6). He played a pivotal role in the championship run as the backup point guard, flummoxing the Los Angeles Lakers defense in the conference semifinals, and keying Dallas’ penetration as the starting shooting guard in the final three games of the NBA Finals — all Mavs victories — against the Miami Heat. Barea, who earned $1.8 million last season, said he would have to be bowled over by a dollar figure to think about leaving Dallas. He said potential promises of a starting job elsewhere won’t be enough to lure him away.
We all know that Mark Cuban will open up the checkbook for JJ Barea once the lockout ends, so it only makes sense for him to stay where he’s most comfortable, with a chance to help the Mavs defend their title.