The Wolves are close to finalizing a deal that would bring J.J. Barea to town. The deal entails four years and guarantees around $19 million.
I couldn’t be more frank by saying this one is a head-scratcher and laugh riot to boot. Kahn has now signed three backup point guards via free agency in three different off-seasons (Ramon Sessions in 2009 and Luke Ridnour in 2010). That just garners we throw a roast in his honor — Maybe that’s been his goal all along? He worked hard to rid the team of the clot at point guard when he found a new home for Jonny Flynn, and allowed Sebastian Telfair to walk.
Starting the season with Ridnour and Rubio seemed like a sure-thing. Rubio, from the sounds of it, has looked good in practice thus far and seems to have won the vote of coach Rick Adelman for the starting spot, leaving Ridnour in that veteran back-up role that he played so well in Milwaukee for Brandon Jennings.
But throwing Barea into the mix knocks everything off-kilter; and I couldn’t love it more. The move may never be justified because, for those of you who think this is a snowball decision that will affect others down the line, I don’t think so; I believe Barea is here to stay.
Barea was a major contributor in Dallas’ title run last season. He’s the stereotypical spark plug off of the bench that injects the game with raw adrenaline. He flies around the court, drives the lane and dishes to open shooters; Kahn’s dream of what Flynn should’ve been. He also hits open shots — Sorry, Jonny. But the number one thing I love about Barea is that he can handle the ball. No, not like Ridnour’s ball-handling, like an actual point guard that secures the ball but keeps things moving. Ridnour often found himself last year in tough spots because he picked up the ball or drove to the hoop and had nowhere to go. Barea doesn’t let that happen.
But perhaps this wasn’t a basketball move at all. Rubio’s move goes beyond the hardcourt and will prove to be difficult. Rubio making the transition from Spain to America also means transitioning from Spanish to English, which is difficult for anyone, especially a youngin’ looking to make a difference in the NBA. With Barea alongside him, Rubio will now have a native Spanish speaker and a more relatable mentor in the locker room. You can still argue that Ridnour could be that guy, but what I’ve personally seen from Ridnour in the past season is that he likes to keep to himself and go about his business. Rubio will take much more mentoring than Jennings needed and Ridnour just might not be up to the task.
So it’s all puzzling. We see Kahn’s third back up point guard signing in three years. We see redundancy all over the board again at an unstable and uncertain position. But does it matter? This time the Wolves went out and grabbed a true winner; he’s a champion. Barea’s style fits the type of offense this team is going to play, and we don’t have to sacrifice much in age to get the effects on the court and leadership from the bench.
Having said that, I firmly believe Barea is here to stay. Ridnour on the other hand? He may now be packaged somewhere — perhaps New York — due to the sheer logjam at point guard; logjams are no-good when you have a young prodigy to mentor. Although we all know how Kahn handles logjams: he doesn’t. He sits on them instead. But I digress.
The Wolves aren’t done in free agency yet. We’re going to see two of three things happen next: 1) The move that sends Ridnour along his way; 2) Barea gets packaged and dealt for a bigger piece, say a starting shooting guard; 3) The Wolves make a minor deal for a shooting guard like Rudy Fernandez or Raja Bell — Barea could be a bargaining chip for Dallas to go after, giving up on Fernandez for less than what he’s really worth. My money’s on options 1 and 3 (Please be Rudy, please be Rudy.)
Stay tuned because things aren’t over yet.