Saturday, February 9, 2008

Barea follows a very familiar path

It’s easy, even understandable, to pigeonhole JJ Barea. He stuck with the Mavericks last season as an undrafted free agent. From tip to tip, you can’t stretch 6 feet out of him.

He’s an afterthought. An underdog. He’s … Avery Johnson 20 years ago. That’s not bad company.

“I’m realistic,” Barea said, scaling back his natural bravado. “I’m really realistic, but I’m always looking for the best. I want to be a starter wherever, but I’m realistic, too. I could be a backup for a couple years or I could be starter.”

He’s run the gamut this season. He’s filled in as a spot starter, found himself in the rotation for stretches and been inactive. The trick is staying ready and steady on the roller coaster those on the fringe ride.

“We’re trying to a point where he can be a rotation guy,” Johnson said. “It’s not when we’re up by 30 or down big where we can throw him in the game and the fans go crazy. We need him to have a significant role now and we’re trying to get him to a point where we get him comfortable.”

Barea is slated to make his fourth consecutive start Sunday at New Jersey. The Mavs, coincidentally or not, are riding a three-game winning streak and have climbed back to the top of the Southwest Division at 34-15.

Read the rest of this story, along with a Nets preview, at


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