JJ Baria is a legend among Dallas Mavericks fans. The 5’10 “guard was a spark plug during the team’s 2011 championship run, providing solid scoring and passing through the bench. He also shook off Andrew Barnum’s Clothesline – a man 14 inches tall and 105 pounds heavier – From the same playoff.
He has offered to be a frequent presence off the bench over the past decade. Now, he is being rewarded for this – even if he is not in the team.
The Mavericks signed Barea to a one-year deal for $ 2.6 million. Then, only weeks before the season started ESPN reported Maeve was freeing Baria. He will get to keep all those money without playing a single minute for them this year.
As ESPN reporter Tim McMahon explains, Mavs owner Mark Cuban knew that the team would probably release Baria when they signed him to the deal. Cuba simply wanted to reward their guards for 11 years of service with the team. Barra was always popular with fans, was a leader in the locker room, and did some good work in the Dallas community.
The 36-year-old has spent 11 of his 14 NBA seasons in Dallas. He led Minnesota for three years after which the Mavericks won the championship. He eventually asks the Timberwells to forgive him so that he can return to Dallas.
Baria reportedly still wants to play in the NBA, so we’ll see if a team takes a flier on him. He may not contribute as many minutes on the court, but having a strong experienced leadership is never a bad thing.
Even though Baria does not play a single minute in the NBA this season, he will earn millions of dollars due to his loyalty to the city of Dallas and the Mavericks organization. And if he does indeed retire, he will go out with a championship ring as a local hero.
It is a classy move by Cuba to reward one of its players. Here’s hoping Baria gets another chance to lace up his sneakers elsewhere in the NBA.