2011 NBA champion J.J. Barea won't be suiting up in a Dallas Mavericks uniform anymore but his memories created with the team will never fade. Barea, who went undrafted in the 2006 NBA draft, signed his first NBA contract with the Mavericks and the rest is history as he has played 11 of his 14 NBA seasons in Dallas.
Last month, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban rewarded Barea for his longtime commitment to the team as he signed the Puerto Rican to a veteran's minimum deal of $2.6 million. The Mavericks had no intention of retaining Barea for this coming season but they wanted to give him an "exit gift."
"It still hasn't hit me, but I woke up today super happy," Barea said, per ESPN. "It's been an amazing time here in Dallas. I wouldn't change anything. "But it's a tough day. It's the end of me as a player in Dallas, but [I have] nothing but good memories."
Barea, 36, isn't ready to call it a career but the Mavericks want to give more chances to younger players on the roster.
Barea the 'heart and soul' of Dallas
"We've had an incredible, amazing ride with J.J.," Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said.
"He, in a lot of respects, has been the heart and soul for us for many, many years and certainly the pride of Puerto Rico. Today that comes to a close as we're forced to make cuts. "I think with the fact that we're on a little bit of a younger direction, let's call it, with our backup point guard prospects, certainly the writing was on the wall.
We all understood that coming in. I think it was really more of an appreciation for J.J. and the amazing things he's done in his career, why we brought him back as the 16th player on this roster and gave him a thank-you of sorts."
Mavericks owner Cuban has suggested several times that Barea could be a part of Mavericks' coaching staff once his career is over. "In the future, I would love to come back and help this team again," Barea said.
"My goal is to coach at the highest level, and I know I will be great, especially here in Dallas. I definitely want to play this year, take a break after with the family and enjoy my kids, but I want to stay around the game." Barea also played for three season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, before returning to Dallas in 2014.