DENVER — J.J. Barea hasn’t gotten in a game yet this season. But the 14-year veteran guard is doing a number of other things to help the Dallas Mavericks.
“He’s doing great — I’m talking to him constantly,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s been a great influence on the team even though he has not been playing, and he’s ready.”
Barea underwent surgery on Jan. 14 to repair a ruptured right Achilles tendon. The injury occurred during a Jan. 11 game at Minnesota, and the rehabilitation process has been long and tedious.
“It’s something different,” Barea said. “It’s like learning how to walk and jump again.
“It’s a new challenge for me. I took it and it’s looking good.”
Barea, 35, is the last player on the Mavs from the team that captured the 2011 NBA title. That memorable link to the most glorious moment in the franchise’s history is obviously precious to Barea and Mavs Nation.
“He was a part of the ultimate sort of run,” Carlisle said. “Look, he’s a terrific player, and the thing that I love about what he’s doing now is he’s doing a lot of extra work and keeping himself really ready to play.
“At some point we’re certainly going to need him on the floor.”
Whenever that time comes, Barea said he’ll be ready to punch the time clock.
“I can play, but I’m not at my top, top,” he said. “I’ve just got to keep playing and keep playing and I’ll get there at some point, but I feel pretty good.”
FINNEY-SMITH MORE ACTIVE
Dorian Finney-Smith has been so active this season that he attempted 14 free throws in the first three games. That includes eight free throw attempts in the season opener against Washington, which is a single-game high for Finney-Smith.
“It’s activity around the basketball for the most part,” Carlisle said. “In one of those games we got to the free throw line a lot and in the bonus with loose ball fouls on the opposing team.
“His activity on the boards facilitates a lot of that. So, he’s one of those guys that we can’t live without.”
And why not?
“He does so many little things for us,” Carlisle said. “And he’s capable of guarding the best players in the game, whether they’re playing the point, the two, the three, the four and even the five.”
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