Playing in Spain, what’s next before retirement and Mavs-Clippers predictions


Who knows the Mavericks better than anyone outside of the team?

JJ Barea has a strong case for a fan favorite point guard in the 2011 Championship race who played for the Mavericks during training camp last December.

After playing for Movistar Estudiantes in the Spanish Liga ACB for the past few months, Barea, 36, is back in the United States and just as impatient as the fans who haven’t played more than a decade for the franchise. to watch the Mavericks start. the playoffs against the Clippers.

During his recent travels between his Dallas and Miami homes, The morning news from Dallas caught up with Barea to recap her time in Europe, to preview what will likely be her final basketball season this summer, and to hear her thoughts on the current Mavericks – including a series prediction for their first-round rematch.

Here are his answers, slightly edited for length and clarity.

Q: How was your season in Spain? Have you been able to bring your family and settle into European life?

Barea: “A great experience. It was something totally different from what I’m used to. I’m used to NBA life. I got used to it for many years, but it was totally different. The level of basketball was good, they only played once a week sometimes, maybe twice a week, so it was difficult.

“And I couldn’t bring my family over, so that was a big deal. When I first spoke to the team I was like, ‘You have to help me bring the family back’ because of COVID and we tried, but it didn’t work. It was really difficult for me. At one point I was like, ‘I have to go home. I am ready to go home. I can’t do this anymore.

“But it was great. I got to see another side of basketball. The teammates were great. We started off a bit slowly. Then we won a few games in the middle. We started to play a lot better, then four or five guys got injured, and we came back down.

Q: How did you feel physically with the more relaxed schedule and being about two years away from Achilles surgery?

Barea: “No doubt, fewer games give me a lot of time to prepare. At first it took me a little while to get there, but then I felt great. In the middle we started to win a few games, I had a good pace and I feel good right now, so I’m trying to stay that way for the future. Achilles is an injury that’s going to last a lifetime, so sometimes my ankle hurts a little bit, stuff like that, but it’s something you have to deal with.

Q: I saw you signing with Cangrejeros de Santurce in Puerto Rico earlier this week. How did this happen and why did you think this was a good opportunity for you?

Barea: “In short, the same summer I signed with the Mavericks, I played for this team. This team has been gone for a while, and now they are coming back with a new owner. The team is in San Juan, the capital, so it will be really good for Puerto Rican basketball and the professional league there. It’s really important for the kids and the fans to have a league in Puerto Rico, so this year should be a lot of fun.

“I know the fans want to see me play there before I retire. I am delighted to help the league, to help have a good team and to play basketball. I just want to have fun now. I just want to be in Puerto Rico, home, to play basketball. I go to the beach. I can play golf. I will be with my family and my children. It should be a lot of fun.

Q: When does this season start?

Barea: “It starts, I guess, late May, early June usually. But this year, they moved it to July 8. They’re going to try to finish it in late September or early October, so it’s going to be a three or four month league, so if you make it to the final you’re going like until October.

Q: So, do you consider this summer to be your last basketball race? Have you thought about the future or about retirement?

Barea: “I think so. Maybe after this year is over I’ll see how I feel and maybe play another one in Puerto Rico. But it depends on how I feel. But yes, I think going overseas or stuff like that, I think I’m done with that, but you never know. I think I’ll be done with it.

Q: You’ve been open about your future goals as a coach, so I’m wondering this: If the Mavericks were to have an opening in their staff in a year or two – say, assistant coach Jamahl Mosley becomes a head coaching job elsewhere – would you go after a chance to return to Dallas in a new role?

Barea: “No question. I have a great relationship, as you know, with Mark [Cuban] and with everyone in the Mavericks so they know. I will be meeting Mark here before I go to Puerto Rico for the summer. I want to stay in touch with the team for the next two years, and then definitely, when a coaching position opens up, I want to continue preparing my experience for coaching. I would love to work for the Mavericks and be in Dallas and be a part of the Mavericks forever.

Q: How lucky have you been to watch the Mavs this season given the time difference and channel availability in Europe?

Barea: “Funny story: some nights, especially when I got there, it took a long time, I couldn’t sleep. For some reason I would wake up in the middle of the night and turn the game on, and watch. Or I would watch the highlights the next day. Especially now that I’m back in the States, I watch pretty much every game.

“For some reason, if they play, I have to watch it. I have a lot of friends on the team and I shoot for them. Like yesterday, I saw a few. We had dinner. I think I’m always going to be a Mavericks, and I think it’s important for me to watch and stay with it.

Q: What has marked you with them this season? Is there something that the casual viewer might not have recognized, but that you have done with your inner perspective?

Barea: “The Mavericks are a talented team, a really talented team. Like right now for the playoffs, whoever has a good pace or who is hot at the right time, I think the Mavericks have a great chance of succeeding. I just got out, so I know how it’s going to go, what the team is like, who is going to play. I knew {Dorian]Finney-Smith was going to have a good year – stuff like that. “

Q: How well have you been able to stay in touch with Luka Doncic in particular? I know you have that kind of mentor and brother bond over his first two seasons.

Barea: “We send texts back and forth. We spent two good years together. We had a lot of fun. He’s a great person, a great friend, so yes we definitely keep in touch.

What’s your series prediction for how things will go against the Clippers?

Barea: “I have Mavs. I have Mavericks in six. I kinda like that we’re going to start on the road. We played them last year in the bubble, so we’ll see. I think [Kristaps Porzingis] is going to be a big part. We need KP to be on his A-game. I think he has something to prove, so I think he will be ready, so I hope it works.

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Find more Mavericks coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.


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