Mavericks sign J.J. Barea, waive Gal Mekel

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J.J. Barea, bought out by the Timberwolves, wanted to return to the Mavericks.

There was only one problem: Dallas already had 15 players with guaranteed contracts.

Fortunately for Barea, Mark Cuban is willing to eat a salary. The Mavericks already waived Bernard James (guaranteed) for Charlie Villanueva (unguaranteed), and now they’re waiving Gal Mekel (guaranteed) for Barea.

Barea proved valuable for the Mavericks during their run to the 2011 championship. He can turn the corner on the pick-and-roll, get into the paint and make plays as the defense scrambles. But, as his time in Minnesota showed, asking him to fill a larger role is probably misguided.

Rick Carlisle knows how to use Barea. I have no question about that. But does Barea, 30, have the same burst he did three years ago? Without it, its difficult to see the 6-foot guard being effective.

Mekel, who has two guaranteed years remaining on a minimum contract, can be claimed off waivers by any team with an open roster spot or a willingness to create one. The 26-year-old struggled as a rookie last season, but a team could believe he needed time to transition from Israel and claim him. If he goes unclaimed, there’s a chance he still find suitors seeking to sign him for only one year and/or on an unguaranteed deal. Failing that, he’s likely headed back overseas or possibly to Dallas’ D-League affiliate — with a nice payout from the Mavericks.