J.J. Barea was the subject of trade rumors this past week leading up to Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, but in the end he stayed with the Timberwolves. He’s proven to be an important player off the bench for the Wolves: In their 26 wins heading into Saturday’s game at Utah, he was shooting 43 percent from three-point range. In their 28 losses, he’s at just 24 percent. The Star Tribune’s Michael Rand caught up with Barea on a number of subjects before the Wolves’ road trip:
Q Were you hoping to stay here instead of being traded?
A You never really want to get traded. I think I’m in a good situation here, and I think we have a good group of guys with a good staff.
Q Does it weigh on your mind when you hear rumors?
A It’s not really that big of a deal. Maybe a little bit because you have to listen to people ask you about it, but other than that it’s no big deal.
Q I was looking up that Mavericks team you were on in 2010-11, the one that won the title. You guys had a six-game losing streak and a four-game losing streak during the year. How did you pull it all together?
A There were a lot of veterans on that team who understood there were going to be a lot of ups and downs. But I remember that six-game losing streak, though. It felt like someone was dying every day. … But every day we got better and by the time the playoffs hit we were playing our best. Everybody was playing good at the same time, and we got on a roll.
Q This year’s Wolves team has had a lot of ups and downs. I’m not saying you’re going to win a championship, but can you get hot like that Dallas team?
A There’s always that possibility. It’s going to be tough right now. We have a couple of guys hurt, and we’re not in that good rhythm yet. But we had a good showing [against Indiana]. … This road trip is going to be big.
Q Indiana came out and went on a run to start the fourth quarter against the bench, cutting the lead to five. But by the time Kevin Love came back in, the lead was back up to 12. How important was that game for the bench?
A It was great. It was huge. That showed a lot. We knew they were going to make a run, but we answered back with a couple buckets and a couple stops.
Q I know you’ve been asked about Love and a perceived rift between the two of you. Where did that start?
A I think my first year here, we had a little in-game heat-up in Sacramento, but that was nothing. After the game, I remember we were hanging out in the bus. We’re competitors. In the game sometimes, we’re going to get mad. But we go to dinner, we hang out. We talk about everything. I don’t have anything against him, and I know he doesn’t have nothing against me. We’re good.
Q Last thing: You’re listed at 6 feet tall. Really?
A Oh, no. No, no, no. If I get to 5-11, that’s a good day.