Report: Timberwolves nearing buyout with J.J. Barea, who hopes to return to Dallas

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J.J. Barea has apparently played his last game in Minnesota. His future with the team has been up in the air for some time, and now ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that they’re nearing a buyout agreement.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are in the process of finalizing a buyout for veteran guard J.J. Barea that should enable Barea to become a free agent early next week, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that Barea will be waived by the Wolves before Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline for teams to cut rosters down to 15 players and possibly as early as Sunday.

Stein adds that Barea is expected to sign with the Dallas Mavericks once he clears waivers.

Sources say that the Dallas Mavericks, meanwhile, are planning to re-sign Barea next week once he clears waivers. Barea is expected to clear because his salary-cap number for the coming season is $4.5 million.

Barea was an important part of the Mavericks’ 2011 title run, averaging 8.9 points and 3.4 assists per game off the bench during the playoffs. The Mavericks let Barea go in free agency that offseason when the Timberwolves signed him to a four-year, $18 million contract.

Barea won’t be the first player from the 2011 Mavs to rejoin the team this offseason. Dallas traded for Tyson Chandler, the starting center on that title team, in June. Those two and Dirk Nowitzki are the only players from that team left on the roster after Shawn Marion left in free agency this summer.

The Mavericks would have to waive a player to make room for Barea on their roster. The two likeliest candidates are guard Gal Mekel and big man Greg Smith.

Moe Harkless says no buyout with Knicks: “I’ll be here the rest of the year”

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Moe Harkless went from a guy often starting and playing critical minutes for a contender in the Clippers to being the matching salary in a trade and finding himself on the woeful Knicks.

“It is definitely an adjustment with the way things are,” Harkless told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “Everything is different, the culture and everything.”

If there was a player nobody would blame for wanting a buyout and the chance to get back to a team playing for something, it would be Harkless.

That’s not happening. Multiple reports have surfaced that he is not talking buyout with New York running up to the March 1 deadline. The latest comes from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Then Harkless was even more direct speaking to Bondy.

“I’ll be here the rest of the year,” he said.

Harkless has fans in NBA front offices, with the Lakers rumored to be among them (although they are about to land Markieff Morris in a similar role). Harkless could play good defensive minutes on the wing down the stretch for a team, buying rest for key guys, plus in the playoffs he could be advantageous in certain matchups.

Morris and the Knicks have time to change their minds, but it sounds like he will play out the season in New York then be a free agent next summer.

Lakers reportedly will waive DeMarcus Cousins to clear roster spot

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If the Lakers are going to add Markieff Morrisas has been rumored — or anyone else via free agency, they are going to need to clear out a roster spot.

That has the Lakers looking to waive DeMarcus Cousins, a report broken by Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Cousins signed with the Lakers over the summer but never set foot on the court with them after tearing his ACL during summer workouts (which led to a scramble and L.A.’s fortuitous signing of Dwight Howard). He was around the team and rehabbing, and while they would never officially rule him out, Cousins was never expected to play.

He was not waived before because his $3.5 million salary might have been useful in a trade. When that didn’t materialize at the deadline it, became likely he could get waived.

It’s highly unlikely a team picks up Cousins this season, while he continues to rehab from his injury. However, it might be a good roll of the dice this summer by a team to sign him to a minimum contract for next season. Cousins still has some NBA basketball in him, if he can just stay healthy.

Karl-Anthony Towns has fractured wrist, to be re-evaluated in two weeks

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Karl-Anthony Towns was a surprise scratch from the Timberwolves last game before the All-Star break, a “left wrist injury” delaying the home debut of him with D'Angelo Russell (they did play a road game together in Toronto). Then came the rumors he could miss a few games when play started up again.

It’s going to be more than a few games, more than a few weeks.

Towns has a fractured left wrist, the team announced Friday. He is out and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. From the team press release:

“While Towns has been diligent in treatment with a goal of return to play, he has been assessed by multiple specialists over the last several days and the team continues to gather information on the optimal management strategies.”

Towns had been playing through wrist pain for a couple of weeks before this diagnosis.

Towns is having a career year on offense, averaging  26.5 points a game while shooting 41 percent from three (on 7.9 attempts per game), plus grabbing 10.8 rebounds a night. That has not translated into wins for Minnesota, however.

Towns being out doesn’t hurt the Timberwolves in the short term, they have fallen far out of the playoff chase in the West. However, this cuts into time Towns and Russell could have used to grow accustomed to each other’s games. It’s time lost for the coaching staff and front office as they evaluate the fit of players they have around Towns and Russell.

Lakers vs. Clippers game rescheduled for April 9, forces Lakers into back-to-back-to-back

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It was the right thing to do when the league, in consultation with the Lakers and Clippers, postponed the game between the two teams on Jan. 28, just two days after Kobe Bryant’s tragic death.

However, it left the league in a difficult spot — it was not going to be easy to find a place to put that game. Both teams have full schedules, plus the Staples Center is also home to the NHL’s Kings plus other booked concerts and events.

The found a spot: The game will be played on April 9 at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT, and will be broadcast on TNT.

But to do that three other games had to be moved, and in doing so it has the Lakers playing in a back-to-back-to-back (something only seen in recent decades during the 66-game lockout season of 2011-12).

The other games moved are:

• The Chicago Bulls at Clippers game initially scheduled for April 8 will be played on April 6 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT (moving from Wednesday to Monday).
• The Golden State Warriors at Lakers game originally scheduled for April 9 will be played on April 7 at 10 p.m. ET/7 PT (moving from Thursday to Tuesday) and will remain televised on TNT.
• The Bulls at Lakers game originally scheduled for April 7 will be played on April 8 at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 PT (moving from Tuesday to Wednesday).

Meaning the Lakers host the Warriors Tuesday, the Bulls Wednesday, then are “at” the Clippers on Thursday.

The Clippers are now scheduled to play Monday (Bulls), Tuesday (at Jazz), and Thursday that week.

It’s not an ideal situation, but the league made the right move at the time. This is the price.