J.J. Barea is the latest to join the championship reunion for the Dallas Mavericks.
The diminutive guard who played a key role in Dallas’ 2011 NBA Finals victory over Miami signed with the Mavericks on Wednesday after clearing waivers following his release by Minnesota.
Barea is back with Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler, the center whose leadership played a big part in the franchise’s only championship.
Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban decided three years ago not to bring back several key pieces of his title team because he thought the long-term contracts would hurt his salary cap flexibility under the new labor agreement.
As a result, Chandler and Barea went elsewhere on four-year deals — Chandler to the New York Knicks and Barea to the Timberwolves.
Chandler came back in an offseason trade for the final year of a contract that was originally worth $55 million. He’s making almost $15 million this year.
Barea was added quickly after reaching out a buyout agreement on the final year of his deal worth $4.5 million. He will make the veteran minimum of $1.3 million with the Mavericks.
Minnesota coach Flip Saunders didn’t believe there would be much playing time for Barea behind point guards Ricky Rubio and Mo Williams.
While there’s a similar logjam in Dallas with Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris and Raymond Felton, Barea has a history with Dallas coach Rick Carlisle.
He was a surprise starter for the first time in the playoffs with the Mavericks trailing the Heat 2-1, and started three straight Dallas victories that closed out the series.
Barea averaged a career-high 11.3 points per game each of his first two seasons in Minnesota, but ultimately was miscast as a prototypical point guard. Much of the success that led to his big contract came under Carlisle as a shooting guard who was a threat to drive the lane.
Now in his ninth season, Barea made the Dallas roster as an undrafted free agent in 2006. The native of Puerto Rico played in college at Northeastern.
Dallas waived guard Gal Mekel to make room for Barea.