Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Gana & Barea sign deals today

Gana Diop and J.J. Barea are back in the fold, as both signed contracts Wednesday with the Mavericks. The two fan favorites, who entered the offseason as free agents, inked their deals on the first day after the league moratorium.

It’s a return for Barea and reunion for Diop. Barea spent the last two seasons in Dallas after making the team as an undrafted free agent rookie in 2006. Diop spent 2 ½ seasons with the Mavs before being traded to New Jersey as part of the Jason Kidd blockbuster.

“You’ve got to be happy,” said Diop, who was pursued by several teams. “This feels good. I felt this is the place for me to be. I’ve had a good time in Dallas. I love the city. I was back here two days after the season ended.”

Diop signed his contract at the team’s offices inside American Airlines Center. He can’t wait to start working with new coach Rick Carlisle. Diop is headed to Las Vegas, site of the NBA Summer League, this weekend to work out individually with Carlisle from Sunday to Wednesday.

“He was a big part of me coming back,” Diop said of Carlisle, who took an active role in the recruitment process.

Getting a chance to play with his former teammates and friends – Dirk Nowitzki, Jerry Stackhouse, Jason Terry, Josh Howard and others – also played a part in his decision. Kidd was another selling point for the Senegal native nicknamed “Gana Buckets” within team circles.

“I’ve got to run the floor,” Diop said, “and get my hands up for these easy buckets.”

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