The switch from palling around with Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler in a championship-winning locker room in Dallas to the cold winter months of Minnesota (and even colder April stretches where wins are few and years between) must be tough.
From the sounds of J.J. Barea's comments after a disappointing loss to the Golden State Warriors, he's having a hard time going from playing with a solid set of starters and backups to the guys currently taking to the floor for the Timberwolves.
Here's what a fed-up Barea told the Star Tribune after the loss:
We've got problems here," Barea said after his team shot 10-for-40 in the second half and struggled on defense. "We have a lot of guys that don't care. On a basketball team, when you have a bunch of guys who don't care, it's tough to win games. We're going to keep getting [losses] here until we get players that care about winning, about the team, about the fans."
Now, I'm not sure if anyone reminded him, but…the Wolves are currently without their two best players. After rookie Ricky Rubio stunned everyone by giving Kyrie Irving a run for his ROY trophy, a terribly unfortunate ACL tear put the point guard out of commission. After sustaining a concussion in Denver, reigning MIP Kevin Love has been out.
Consider where the franchise was a season ago. Consider how exciting a Monday-night game between the Wolves and Los Angeles Clippers was just a few weeks ago. This is a team that's making huge strides. They're putting pieces together. They've got the two most important pieces.
Barea sounds like a fiery player who's extremely frustrated with how the second half of this condensed season has unfolded for the Wolves. He has to look at the players who are currently available for his team. Sure, they do need to keep rounding out the roster, but the absence of the Love and Rubio combo isn't anything to gloss over. Strip most teams in the NBA of their two best players and things are going to get shaky.
Barea's criticisms are tricky, because you want a player to be upset about losing. You want the culture of the team to be shaped and molded around winning and successes, even when things are not going well on the floor. While it's great, wonderful even, that he cares, he risks alienating those teammates who are busting their butts trying to do what they can, even when undermanned.
Comments like these are not uncommon when a team is losing. While Barea is getting paid to play in Minnesota and he's getting lots of time on the floor, especially with Rubio out, one has to wonder if he wishes he were still in Dallas, playing a smaller role, but gearing up for the postseason.
Losing isn't ever easy. Seeing the bigger picture is crucial to keeping your sanity.