PORTLAND, Ore. – J.J. Barea was looking for a way to pay tribute to fallen teammate Dwight Powell.
He opted for sneaker messages, and many of his teammates followed suit.
Barea had “Powell” on one of his shoes and “DP 7” on the other shoe. Different players had different sentiments inscribed on their shoes.
Barea has been close to Powell since he became a teammate and Barea also has been through what Powell will have facing him as he recovers from a ruptured right Achilles tendon.
“I was looking for something,” said Barea. “I don’t know what to put. So this will work. Me and Dwight have always had a great connection and it was tough. It still hasn’t hit us that he’s out. He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever met in my life, in basketball and as a person. We got to keep him around some way, somehow.”
Barea suffered his Achilles tear just over a year before Powell’s injury. Barea was able to return to action at the start of this season.
“I talked to him today a little because I’m trying to see what doctor he’s going to use,” Barea said. “If somebody’s going to be ready and fight, it’s him. He’ll be crazy about the recovery.
Barea said he plans on staying in close contact with Powell as he begins his recovery and will spend as much time as he can working out with the 6-10 Powell in the offseason.
As for making up for Powell’s loss on the court, coach Rick Carlisle elected to go smaller against Portland on Thursday night, using guard Seth Curry in the lineup.
Carlisle said that the Mavericks are looking for potential helpers on the front line to replace Powell.
“I don’t know that it’s a certainty, but we’re certainly engaged in the process of checking things out, looking into who’s available as free agents now,” Carlisle said. “I can’t speak to other activity with other teams. But we’ll see what’s what. In the meantime, we’ve got to steer the ship with the guys we have.”
In that regard, he said there will be many adjustments without Powell’s energy.
“In many ways, he’s unreplaceable,” Carlisle said. “It’s a big task and we’re going to have to adjust. He’s so much about what we’re about in terms of our culture and how we approach everything day to day. But time will go quickly. He’ll be a tenacious guy with his rehab. And I have no doubt he’ll come back 100 percent.
“When something like this happens, you’d like a seamless adjustment. But that’s a tough task. We’ll try to keep it simple and make our adjustments. At the end of the day, it’s going to be about how hard and how together we’re playing and it’s going to start with our defense and rebounding.”