J.J. Barea Should Have His Jersey Retired in Dallas

Dallas Mavericks J.J. Barea Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dallas Mavericks J.J. Barea Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images) /

When it is all said and done, J.J. Barea should have his jersey retired for the Dallas Mavericks.

J.J. Barea will have his jersey retired in Dallas.

Repeat that to yourself because that will be something you will be reading in the future after Barea decides to hang up his shoes. It might sound crazy to some, but Barea’s career in Dallas should be honored by the franchise.

Currently in his 12th season (9th in Dallas), Barea has been one of the brighter spots of the season for the Mavericks in a year where their record hasn’t been something to brag about.

Sitting with a 13-25 record, Barea has appeared in all 38 games this season and is averaging 12.1 points and 6 assists a game off the bench. The highest points per game and assists per game average of his entire career.

But let’s take a look back at his journey in the NBA.

Born in Puerto Rico, Barea went to college to play basketball in the cold, Northeastern part of the United States at Northeastern University where he is second all-time in scoring behind Reggie Lewis.

Barea is listed at 6’0 tall, but people around him agree that six feet is a bit generous for Barea. He would go undrafted and sign a free agent contract with the Dallas Mavericks in August of 2006. How many undrafted, under 6’0″ tall players have a 12+ season career in the NBA?

After spending the first couple of seasons trying to earn a role in the rotation, Barea would become a key part of the bench unit in his third season where he would average just over 20 minutes a game.

Two seasons after that, Barea would be a vital part of the championship run that brought the one and only title to Dallas. In the Finals, after falling behind 1-2 in the series to Miami, Rick Carlisle inserted Barea into the starting unit.

“Don’t get it twisted. They don’t win a championship if he doesn’t start that game and Rick knows that,” Mavericks Assistant Coach Melvin Hunt tells me as we chatted about Barea before the Pistons came to town a few weeks ago.

Barea would log over 20 minutes a game over the next three games and Dallas would win three straight to win the series.

After winning the title, Barea was one of the many Mavericks that walked in free agency where he went to Minnesota for three seasons. He returned to Dallas in 2014 and has been a key part of the bench ever since.

“Special type of competitor and special type of player that I don’t think people really understand how good he is,” Hunt said.

“He’s as much as freak of nature as some of the guys who jump above the rim and do all the crazy stuff. He’s about as skilled of a guy,” Hunt said. “Locally, people will be telling stories, telling tall tales about J.J. Barea when he retires.”

With how Barea is playing now at the age of 33, that day might not be coming soon.

Barea will be 34 next season in the last year of his contract making $3.7 million. After that, it is up to Barea to keep playing and to the Mavericks to bring him back. Something that I assume both would do for a reasonable price.

Looking at some of the franchise leaderboards, Barea’s name is found throughout.

Dirk Nowitzki clearly holds the top spot in career games played for the Mavericks and after that, seven more names appear before Barea at the nine spot. Brad Davis, Derek Harper and Rolando Blackman are the next three names on the list.

After January 7, 2018, when Harper gets his jersey retired, all three players will be the only three players with their jerseys retired in the rafters. Michael Finley holds the 5th spot and should be getting his jersey retired at some point also (Dennis Smith Jr. said in his opening press conference that he was denied the #4 jersey because that was Finley’s number).

The next three names are Jason Terry, Shawn Bradley and Mark Aguirre.

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Currently, Barea is 27 games behind Aguirre and 43 games behind Bradley. If Barea plays in all of the remaining games this season, he will be 7th all-time in games played. He is currently 80 games behind Terry and 87 games behind Finley.

If things go as planned health wise for Barea, he should finish 5th all-time in games played in franchise history with all four names above him (and one behind) having their jerseys in the rafters.

He also sits 7th all-time in three-point field goals and 10th all-time in assists.

“I think he will and I think he should,” Hunt went on to say as I told him how I think Barea will get his number retired in Dallas one day.

Next year will be Barea’s 10th season as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Only Nowitzki, Davis, Harper and Blackman have played double-digit seasons in Dallas.

Next: The 2017 Dallas Mavericks: A Year in Review

If Barea plays a couple of more seasons in Dallas and retires as a Dallas Maverick, the day of watching his jersey rise into the rafters will come and you shouldn’t be surprised.