Whether they trade him for a second-round pick or an extra bag of basketballs, the Minnesota Timberwolves need to end their relationship with J.J. Barea. Barea is well past his peak as a basketball player, and given the chemistry issues that he has with Kevin Love, the smartest move is to part ways with Barea immediately.
If Barea were playing well this season, it would make this decision much harder; but considering he’s averaging eight points and three assists per game in 19 minutes of playing time, his minutes would be better spent developing a younger player. One such player who should be getting said minutes is second-year player Alexey Shved.
Although Shved has thrown up some questionable shots and more than his fair share of air balls, he’s recently stepped his game up in the month of January. On the season, Shved is averaging just four points, one assist and one rebound per game; in the month of January however, his scoring average is up to nine points per game, and his assist and rebound numbers have risen as well.
Although not putting up monstrous numbers, Shved is shooting a very efficient 40 percent from the floor and an even more impressive 47 percent from three. He’s averaging 18 minutes per game in the month of January, the most of any month this season, and it appears he could step in and fill the role that Barea currently holds.
Another player who deserves playing time over Barea is newcomer A.J. Price. In Price’s first season with the Wolves, he’s averaging just four minutes per game despite standing out whenever he’s on the court. Of course, the vast majority of his minutes have come in garbage time when he’s playing with and against rookies, but he’s shooting 46 percent from the field nonetheless and deserves an increase in his minutes.
While none of the options to replace Barea are very exciting, they are young players who have room to grow and aren’t on Love’s bad side. Team chemistry is extremely important when it comes to basketball (see the Miami Heat) and trading away Barea is a step that must happen if the Wolves hope to turn their season around.