J.J. Barea is a need, not a luxury

DALLAS -- Keeping Tyson Chandler will be the unquestioned top priority for the Mavericks once the lockout is lifted.

Second on the list? It should be re-signing J.J. Barea.

Barea is a need, not a luxury. The Mavericks don't have anybody ready to replace him as the backup point guard -- Rodrigue Beaubois isn't the solution -- and that role becomes more important as Jason Kidd gets older.

It's also possible that Kidd passes the baton to Barea in two or three years. As Rick Carlisle said, guys like Barea keep finding ways to get better.

Even if Barea is just a backup who makes an occasional matchup-driven cameo in the starting lineup, he's become an important part of the franchise's fabric.

"He’s a fighter," Carlisle said. "He’s a lot about what this team stands for. He’s persistent, he keeps coming at you, and he’s got great big [courage]."

With a salary of $1.8 million, Barea was also one of the best bargains in basketball this season. He's due a big raise, although it's hard to speculate just how big until the CBA battle is resolved.

There is a strong possibility that Barea could get at least one offer for more money and more minutes than the Mavs can give him.

"That's a nice problem to have," Barea said with a big smile this week.

He followed that up by reiterating that he loves his role, his teammates, his coaches, his owner, his city and pretty much everything else he could think of related to being a member of the Mavericks. The implication was that he'd be willing to give Dallas a hometown discount.

If that's the case, there's no reason Barea shouldn't be back to help the Mavs defend their title.