DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – The Dallas Mavericks have lost an important piece in their push for a return to respectability with guard J.J. Barea’s season-ending achilles injury.
Barea tore his right achilles tendon in the fourth quarter of a 119-115 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night. Barea was weighing his options for surgery Saturday, according to the team.
Barea averages 10.9 points and a team-high 5.6 assists as a key part of the second unit for Dallas. The injury likely means a significant increase in play time for rookie Jalen Brunson, a two-time NCAA champion at Villanova and second-round draft pick.
The 34-year-old from Puerto Rico is in his second stint with the Mavericks after being a catalyst for Dallas’ rally from a 2-1 deficit in the 2011 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. The Mavericks won the franchise’s only title in six games.
Luka Doncic boosts the season as the team seeks a return to the playoffs after falling out of the race early and finishing near the bottom of the Western Conference the past two seasons.
Barea’s ability to pick-and-toll and play make in the lane has helped the offense.
He’s the backup to starting point guard Dennis Smith Jr., although the 21-year-old in his second season has missed 14 games, mostly with a right wrist sprain.
Smith’s absence has made the versatile Doncic, 19, the starter at the point. Once Smith is healthy, Barea’s injury could increase his presence in the rotation.
There’s no question Brunson will get more opportunities after his role has varied widely through the first half of the season. While he has spent most of the season in the rotation, he’s had stretches where he played sparingly or not at all.
After Barea’s injury, Brunson hit a big 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter against the Timberwolves before Doncic scored seven straight Dallas points, the last on a 3 that put the Mavericks ahead for good with 23 seconds left.
He signed a four-year, $17 million contract with the Timberwolves after winning the title with the Mavericks. Barea returned to Dallas after agreeing to a buyout of the final year of the deal with Minnesota. He’s in the final season of a four-year contract with the Mavericks.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)