NBA players come and go, but every so often, you run into one that becomes special to a franchise and special to a city.

If there were any doubts that J.J. Barea is one of those rare, beloved players, they were washed away with the tears that the Mavericks’ legend fought back Thursday as he said goodbye to the franchise and the fans that he loves.

“It’s been amazing,” Barea said. “It’s a tough day. But I wouldn’t change anything. The messages from the fans in Dallas have been amazing. The way they treated me from day one – this city saw me as a kid, saw me grow up with a family now, kids, wife – everywhere we go here is special. Dallas is my second home. It’s the happiest place I ever played basketball.

“Today is tough. It’s the end of me as a player in Dallas. But nothing but good memories.”

The team officially waived the 5-10 guard in a move that was agreed upon by the Mavericks and Barea and his agent, Bill Duffy. It will ease the logjam of players at point guard behind Luka Dončić as the Mavericks go with younger alternatives like Jalen Brunson and Trey Burke.

It also allows Barea the chance to choose his next team. He made it clear that he wants to play this season and he said he already had gotten messages from some players around the league inquiring about his services.

“I want to make sure everybody knows I want to play this year out,” he said. “Anything can happen this year with COVID. You never know, I might be back here with Dallas playing. I’ve seen it all in the NBA.

“But I’m going to keep my options open. We’ll see what happens.”

While the future is unknown, the past has been nothing less than a journey worth celebrating for Barea and Mavericks’ fans.

He joined the team in 2006 as an undrafted free agent. He paid his dues for a couple years under Avery Johnson. And when Rick Carlisle became coach in 2008, it wasn’t long before the little Puerto Rican proved himself to the new coach.

Barea didn’t play in the first regular-season game Carlisle coached with the Mavericks – a loss to Houston.

Carlisle said to himself: we got to find out what this guy can do.

“We don’t know much about him,” Carlisle said. “He got into the next game against Minnesota, made an immediate impact . . . and then you could see there’s a level of resourcefulness. Ultimately, the word is winner.

“This guy’s an NBA player and a damn good one. From that moment on, he was a big factor here. In the most important moments of the franchise, he always came through – always came through.”

President and general manager Donnie Nelson met Barea as a 17-year-old high schooler when Barea came to Dallas to play in the Global Games.

He followed Barea’s career through college at Northeastern in Boston and up until he went undrafted in 2006.

“It’s a little bit of a sad day in Mavs-ville as we say goodbye to J.J. Barea,” Nelson said. “(He) went undrafted and chose Dallas as a free agent. We’ve had an incredible, amazing ride with J.J., obviously being a surprise starter in the championship (run in 2011) was just something that was very unique.

“He was a huge part of that championship. He in a lot of respects has been the heart and soul of us for many, many years.”

Barea’s lasting legacy with the Mavericks – actually, he has too many to count – will be when he was inserted into the starting lineup in the NBA finals against Miami.

The Mavericks were down 2-1 in that series and needed a spark.

Carlisle remembers the thought process to make that bold move in Game 4 and it was not one that was spur-of-the-moment or willy-nilly.

It started earlier that season when Barea had gotten off to a terrible start shooting the ball. He was shooting 12.3 percent in the first 26 games of the season. Then the Mavericks visited Miami in December.

“(Barea was) in the throes of this slump, and he finally hit one,” Carlisle said. “Miami was a special place for him. He was always comfortable down there. So he hit that three and the next day I remember the entire team got a laugh out of it, called it a fiesta.”

Fast-forward to Game 6 in Miami in the finals.

“We had a nine point lead and Miami had cut it to four,” Carlisle said. “J.J. got the ball and he attacked and he hit a step-back 3-pointer that took the score from plus-four to plus-seven and it really took some of the air out of Miami at that point. We never looked back.

“There were a lot of these kinds of moments. But that situation was very memorable to me because it was a demonstration to me that no matter the situation, he was always going to believe in himself, he was always going to attack and play the same way. The fact he’d gotten off the schneid in December and then hit that shot, is a pretty good capsule of what he’s all about.

“This is a guy that, whenever he was called upon to perform in a challenging situation, he always came through.”

After Barea was inserted in the starting lineup in the finals, the Mavericks swept the next three games to collect the trophy. Barea averaged 13.3 points and 4.7 assists in those three games and shot 50 percent from the field and 3-point range.

“Throughout that whole year, I didn’t start great, but I was getting better and better and better,” Barea remembered. “And it was the same thing in the playoffs. By the time I got to the finals, my confidence was sky-high.

“Game 4, I get a call from coach after practice and he said, hey, you’re going to start and I want you to be aggressive. All I was thinking about was I’m going to get to the paint and find Dirk (Nowitzki) the first five minutes of the game. And it worked out great.”

It was after that season that Barea signed a four-year, $19-million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Mavericks made the decision not to bring back Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson and Barea from the championship team.

They haven’t won a playoff series since and missed the postseason in four of the nine seasons since the title.

Barea returned to the Mavericks for the 2014-15 season and has been with them since. He is fifth in Mavs history with 637 games played and seventh in 3-pointers made at 596.

Those are tangible impacts he has made. What can’t be quantified is the connection Barea has made with fans and in the community with countless organizations that have cherished him lending his time and his resources to worthy causes.

He has assisted in food lines for the homeless, gathered coats and even helped pets in Puerto Rico. His work in his home country to aid families after Hurricane Maria earned him recognition for the NBA’s Community Assist Award.

And he had a way of ingratiating himself to Maverick fans without even trying. All he did was work hard, hustle and leave every drop of sweat on the American Airlines Center court.

“I don’t think this is a stretch: if you look at the full compass of his career, the fact he was undrafted and what he’s accomplished over 14 years, J.J. Barea has had one of the highest-achieving careers in professional sports history,” Carlisle said. “He’s inspired so many, myself included.

“It’s a bittersweet day. It’s bitter because we say goodbye to somebody that’s been a close and trusted friend. Sweet because we can look back at everything he’s done and celebrate it and see it maybe in a grander scope.”

Barea’s final games as a Maverick (barring another return) came in the NBA bubble in Florida. He played just one game in the playoff series against the Clippers, logging just five minutes in Game 4, which was the Mavericks’ last win of the season.

However, in his next-to-last regular-season game as a Mav, Barea had 18 points and eight assists in a win against Utah on Aug. 10.

Barea’s best season as a Maverick, statistically, was in 2017-18, when he played 69 games and averaged 11.6 points and 6.3 assists, both career bests, in 23.2 minutes per game.

Even so, Barea always will be remembered for the greatness he displayed in the 2011 playoffs as the Mavericks won their only NBA championship.

As he moves on to the next chapter, “there’s definitely gas left in the tank,” as Nelson said about Barea.

He will play somewhere this season, then weigh his options. A coaching career is in his future at some point, as Barea has said many times.

Maybe with the Mavericks.

“At the appropriate time, that certainly will be a discussion for us,” Nelson said. “J.J. is going to have lots of opportunities, whether it’s on the bench, on the business side, basketball operations, certainly tons of media opportunities as well.

“He’s a hot commodity on and off the floor. I think at the right time when he’s ready to have those conversations, we’ll certainly be the first ones at the table.”

Most likely, people in Dallas haven’t seen the last of the man that, pound-for-pound, might be the toughest competitor the Mavericks have ever had.

Twitter: @ESefko


Here’s the official release from the Mavericks.




The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have requested waivers on guard Jose Juan Barea.

Barea (5-10, 180) holds career averages of 8.9 points, 3.9 assists and 19.6 minutes in 831 games (107 starts) with Dallas and Minnesota. In an additional 50 playoff games (11 starts) for Dallas, Barea averaged 7.9 points, 2.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 19.7 minutes. The point guard helped the Mavericks to their first NBA title in 2011, appearing in 21 games throughout the run.

Barea has played 11 of his 14 NBA seasons with the Mavericks. Among franchise leaders, he ranks fifth in games (637), seventh in 3-pointers made (596) and eighth in assists (2,441).

The Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, native went undrafted in the 2006 NBA Draft and was signed by Dallas as a rookie free agent on Aug. 17, 2006. Barea attended Northeastern University where, as a senior, he averaged 21.0 points, 8.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds for the Huskies.


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