Mavericks' Barea has Knicks on radar
Mavericks backup point guard J.J. Barea, who could become an
unrestricted free agent this summer, told The Post he has the Knicks as
his top choice if he doesn’t stick with the Mavericks.
The Mavericks, looking to open cap space, have a team option and the emergence of young French point guard Rodrique Beaubois could become a factor.
With the Sergio Rodriguez experiment on hold, rookie Toney Douglas inherited the starting point-guard slot in last night’s surprise 128-94 win over the Mavs, and Chris Duhon was installed as the backup.
Though Douglas could man the position for the rest of the season, the Knicks will be desperately on the prowl for a new point guard next season and Barea will be on their radar as a cheaper piece to fit under their cap.
Barea, who is from Puerto Rico, said re-signing with Dallas is his preference, but when asked about the Knicks, he lit up like the sun over San Juan.
"Hey, if I got to go somewhere, the Knicks is the place," Barea said. "It’s New York City. A lot of Puerto Ricans over there. And I like the coach [Mike D'Antoni] they have now. I love his system and the way they play. If I got to go somewhere, I would love to be there."
Barea is Jason Kidd’s backup, and that’s not going to change. But the Mavericks, who had a 13-game winning streak snapped last night, are title contenders.
"I like everything here and would want to stay here as long as I can," Barea said. Mark Cuban is one of the wealthiest owners in the league, but he already has tied up a lot of money at the point guard position with Kidd. Barea is averaging 7.7 points and 3.4 assists.
Rodriguez, since being obtained in the Tracy McGrady trade, has been a defensive sieve, and it was Douglas’ turn last night after he scored 19 points in Friday’s 119-112 loss to the Grizzlies in Memphis to spearhead a late rally that fell short. He responded with 21 points (8-of-10 shooting, 4-of-4 on 3-pointers), eight assists and zero turnovers.
"We’re looking at different people," D’Antoni said. "We want to give him [Douglas] a chance at it and he deserves it. It could go the whole time. Right now it’s his spot."