– For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker
A source close to free agent guard J.J. Barea said Saturday that the Knicks and Timberwolves are both in pursuit of the 27-year-old, who starred in the postseason last spring during the Mavericks’ run to the NBA title.
The Knicks, according to the source, offered Barea a two-year deal. By using the amnesty provision on Saturday to waive guard Chauncey Billups and dealing forward Ronny Turiaf to Washington as part of the three-team deal that sent Tyson Chandler to New York, the Knicks technically fell under the cap, and thus lost their ability to use the mid-level exception starting at $5 million. They could use the new “room” exception for teams that are below the tax threshold that starts at $2.5 million.
Minnesota has not made a specific offer to Barea, though they are talking about contract parameters that would be in excess of the “room” amount, the source said. The Timberwolves could be looking for a mentor for their high-profile rookie guard Ricky Rubio, who finally came over to the NBA after starring in Europe as a teenager. Rubio was taken fifth overall by the Wolves in 2009 but remained in Europe until this summer.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks, keeping with their desire to maximize their cap space for the summer of 2012, have only offered Barea a one-year deal, the source said. That decision left Barea feeling “betrayed,” the source said.
Barea, who had become a key contributor for Dallas the past few seasons, was outstanding in the playoffs for the Mavericks, averaging 8.9 points and 3.4 assists in 18.6 minutes per game in the postseason. He shot almost 42 percent from behind the three-point line, and his 22-point, eight-assist effort in the clinching game over the Lakers in the second round so frustrated L.A.’s Andrew Bynum that Bynum cheap-shotted Barea in the closing minutes of the Mavericks’ Game 4 rout, earning an ejection and five-game suspension at the beginning of this season.
After waiving Billups, the Knicks clearly need help at the point. Their current starter is second-year guard Toney Douglas, though first-round pick Iman Shumpert could see some time there as well this season. And Barea would be an ideal distributor in Mike D’Antoni‘s high-octane offensive attack.