J.J. Barea appears set to turn down the bright lights of New York City for the bitter cold of Minneapolis.
The free-agent point guard and Northeastern alum is close to a deal with the Timberwolves, David Aldridge reports on the NBA.com Hang Time Blog. Barea, 27, has been rumored as a possible target of the Knicks — which is an entire other story in itself.
Per usual, a positive step by the Knicks was weighted by a move that screamed of mismanagement. By placing guard Chauncey Billups on amnesty waivers to make room for center Tyson Chandler, the Knicks improved their front line but fell below the roughly $58 million salary cap. As a result, they lost the $5 million mid-level exception they could have used on Barea and have only the $2.5 million "room" exception for teams below the luxury-tax threshold, according to Aldridge.
Barea has spent his entire five-year career to this point with the Mavericks, and posted his best regular season and postseason in 2010-11. He averaged career highs of 9.5 points and 3.9 assists per game, and was a key player in changing the pace of the offense in the playoffs and finals.