DALLAS – A day after undergoing season-ending surgery to repair his torn right Achilles tendon, Dallas Mavericks guard J. J. Barea is resting comfortably. And looking forward to getting back on the court at some point next season.
“His spirits are good,” coach Rick Carlisle said after Tuesday’s practice at the Lympo practice facilities. “From everything I understand the surgery went extremely well.
“I think everybody texted with him yesterday from the team. A lot of us are going to go see him today.”
Barea suffered the injury midway through the fourth quarter of last Friday’s game in Minnesota. The 13-year veteran received a pass from point guard Jalen Brunson, drove the lane and scored, and had some minimal contact with Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague.
But as play continued, Barea unfortunately remained on the floor and was holding his right leg. Brunson then committed an intentional foul so play could stop, and Mavs head athletic trainer Casey Smith and other Mavs personnel immediately rushed to assist Barea and help him to the locker room.
An MRI conducted Saturday revealed that Barea had indeed torn his Achilles tendon. Now comes the recovery process.
“What happened with J. J. is obviously heartbreaking,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “You can never replace what he brings on and off the floor.”
Rookie Jalen Brunson and veteran Devin Harris have been asked to fill the void in Barea’s absence. Brunson had nine points in the 119-115 win over Minnesota and 12 points in this past Sunday’s 119-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors, while Harris didn’t play against the Timberwolves, but contributed nine points in 11 minutes against the Warriors.
“Obviously, Brunson is playing more,” Carlisle said. “Devin’s role is going to be very important.
“Devin hasn’t played any straight point guard, but he’s very capable of doing it. He’s done it the last two or three years on an as-needed basis, because we’ve had injuries before.”
Brunson was the consensus National College Player of the Year last season after helping Villanova win the national title for the second time over the past three years. So he knows what it take to reach the mountaintop, and the Mavs have been extremely pleased with what he’s been able to accomplish thus far as a rookie.
“I think Jalen plays wise beyond his years,” Nowitzki said. “He’s got a lot of experience. . .he was a winner in college, and Devin has been a proven player in this league.
“But we’re thinking about J. J. a lot, obviously, these days. We won on the road in Minnesota, but the locker room (after that game) was as quiet as I’ve seen it after a win. I was devastated, but unfortunately injuries are part of the game and the little guy will fight through it and with our support he’ll be back hopefully soon.”
That’s precisely what Carlisle is anticipating.
“The indications are that the surgery went as well as could possibly be expected,” Carlisle said. “It’s going to be a long road, but I defy anyone to bet against J. J. Barea on anything.
“It’s a great challenge, but he’s taken them on his whole life and his whole career.”