NBA Free Agents 2011: Where Will J.J. Barea Play Next Season?
Jose Juan Barea added the ultimate resume builder to his career by becoming an NBA champion. All of a sudden, he became one of the hottest free agents of this year and is bound to receive calls from all around the league.
Anybody with a slight knowledge of basketball knows NBA teams are in serious hunts for point guards, whether that is a starting point guard or a competent backup. J.J. Barea could fill both roles masterfully.
Barea is, as of today, a Dallas Maverick in every sense of the word. He is not looking for glory and fame, and certainly not looking to team up with better players. After all, his team proved to be the best group of teammates he could ever ask for.
Another trait he shares with several other Mavericks is how humble he is, which indicates that money will not be his No. 1 goal this summer.
That being said, there are only a few teams he will likely consider once it is time for him to make his decision.
Los Angeles Lakers
It is quiet coincidental that the Lakers will be one of the few teams interested in the Latin star. Los Angeles would be a city that Barea would relate to easily, coming from Puerto Rico. It would also be a city in where his girlfriend could continue her career (actress).
Although the city would be attractive enough, it certainly won’t be why Barea would even consider this move. As a Laker, Barea will likely have a shot at being the franchise’s starting point guard for years to come.
Barea is everything the Lakers need out of a point guard. He provides the quickness they lack to attack the rim and find the open shooter. He provides the interior passing Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum need to thrive offensively. He also provides pesky defense and becomes less of a liability in this area since the Lakers start two seven-footers.
Barea’s girlfriend currently lives in Miami and the Hispanic population is as large there as it is in any other city in the United States.
The Miami Heat have a good point guard in Mario Chalmers, but lack depth in that area. It is unclear whether Barea would be a starter or would assume a slightly increased role in Miami compared to the one he currently holds in Dallas.
The clear advantage in this case is his emotional ties to the city and its environment. The clear disadvantage is that the Miami Heat franchise is probably the only true enemy of the Dallas Mavericks and his friend, Dirk Nowitzki.
Barea watched how the Miami Heat mocked his team and his friend when he was ill. He witnessed the arrogance and cockiness the Heat displayed throughout most of the playoffs. Most importantly, he witnessed how the Heat flopped as a team when it mattered most.
It would not be shocking to see Barea avoid any contact with the Heat. At this point, even his sweetheart would understand that.
New York Knicks
Puerto Ricans love Puerto Rico and its people. Barea is no exception.
While everyone gathered up in the middle of the court to celebrate the franchise’s first NBA championship, Barea took a few minutes to walk over to the stands, grab a Puerto Rican flag and hang it on his shoulder as he joined the team for the celebration.
New York is the single most Puerto Rican-flooded state in the country. Not too long ago, Barea indicated he would enjoy playing for the Knicks:
"Hey, if I got to go somewhere, the Knicks is the place," Barea said. "It's New York City. A lot of Puerto Ricans over there. And I like the coach [Mike D'Antoni] they have now. I love his system and the way they play. If I got to go somewhere, I would love to be there."
The Knicks also need a young point guard. Chauncey Billups and Toney Douglas are still Knicks through next season, but only Douglas has long-term value, which will give Barea an opportunity to become an integral part of the up-and-coming team.
There is only one problem in this scenario and that is whether New York would be able to pay Barea the money he deserves.
Mark it down on your calendar: Jose Juan Barea will be a Maverick once again next season and for a few more years after that at the very least. A player that becomes a champion on an incredible journey like the one he went through in Dallas does not just leave.
J.J. Barea was part of something extremely special this year with the Mavericks. He watched the maturity and determination of veterans like Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler, among others. He learned from their dedication and their focus. He became part of the Mavericks family.
When Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest played dirty against Barea, the city erupted in rage against them and showed Barea how much he means to the team and the city. When Barea struggled to find his shot, no boos were heard in the American Airlines Center.
Barea closed his best year as a professional basketball player with a golden seal. The Mavericks' last three victories coincided with a lineup change that moved him to the starting squadron. As a starter, he shot 50 percent from the field and the three-point line and was perfect from the line. He averaged over 13 points and close to five assists per game in just 25 minutes of action.
The Mavericks organization will do whatever it takes to keep the young point guard with the team. They will not have to work as hard as people many think. Barea wants the Mavericks as much as they want him.