The latest rumor we had heard on JJ Barea’s impending free agency was that the diminutive floor general could be headed to the Spanish Liga ACB in order to continue his playing career.
Barea, 36, was reportedly frustrated with his role with the Dallas Mavericks this season, citing a lack of playing time as the main reason why, and feels he can continue to play professional basketball. The Puerto Rican ball-handler also said that if he were to stay in Dallas, they would be interested in making him a coach, a role Barea doesn’t appear ready to transition to just yet.
Well, there’s more on the matter courtesy of a Puerto Rican agent and a close friend of Barea’s, Christian Santaella, who told the 2011 champion that three teams in Liga ACB were interested in his services:
“Three clubs in Spain’s ACB League have already shown some interest in Puerto Rican point guard José Juan Barea. This was made known by Puerto Rican agent Christian Santaella, a friend of the Dallas Mavericks bucket-getter and who has communicated the interest of these teams to Barea. Santaella declined to mention the names of the Spanish teams. ‘For two weeks, we have had conversations with teams from Spain. Yes, there is interest from three teams,’ Santaella told El Nuevo Día.”
Liga ACB may not be the NBA, but it’s widely considered the second-toughest basketball league in the world, and considering Barea’s Spanish-speaking roots, it could be a great spot for him to spend the twilight of his playing career.
Even so, believing he can still contribute at the highest level even if it’s in a minimal bench role, Barea’s main priority is finding his way onto an NBA roster for his final couple of seasons as a player:
“Santaella believes that Barea will be out on the court for one or two more seasons. His priority will be to return to the NBA. ‘José is not going to let his NBA chapter close like this. He has basketball left and I understand that he can play 15 to 18 minutes per high-level game. This season, his time on the court was productive. He did not play much because the team wanted to give young people more opportunities. I think some NBA team is going to offer him a one-year deal. In the worst case scenario, he would go to play in the ACB where there are teams that have asked for him. I imagine he is going to rest for a while and in November and December he will decide where he is going to play. I don’t see him retiring right now,’ Santaella said.”
Barea, who was a key piece for the 2010-11 title-winning Mavericks, has spent 14 seasons in the NBA, 11 of them in Dallas and the other three with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
This past season with the Mavs, he averaged 7.7 points in 15.5 nightly minutes over 29 games. Barea only saw five total minutes of action in the playoffs, however.
One potential suitor in Spain who could make sense for Barea is Real Madrid, who are rumored to be losing their own undersized floor general, Facundo Campazzo, to the NBA, and could use a guard to fill his place.
For more on JJ Barea’s upcoming free agency, click here.