Golden State Warriors

Who can fill JJ Barea's void? The Mavericks' replacement efforts start vs. the ...

At the front of a room in the bowels of American Airlines Center on Sunday, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle sat with a somber expression while recounting a “gut-wrenching” hit to his team’s roster.

A day after the official announcement, Carlisle offered a plan for filling Barea’s void on the court, but lamented the leadership loss and uncertain future for the long-tenured, fan-favorite point guard.

“It’s hard to put into a few words what J.J. Barea has meant to everybody here,” Carlisle said Wednesday before the Mavericks hosted the Golden State Warriors.

While Barea looks toward rehabilitation and recovery, the Mavericks’ efforts to replace his production -- 10.9 points and a team-high 5.6 assist average in 38 games -- begin Sunday night against the two-time-defending NBA champion Warriors.

The two-time NCAA champion at Villanova has shown flashes this season, averaging 6.2 points and 2.1 assists in 16.4 minutes per game, and made a key 3-pointer after Barea left the Mavericks’ 119-115 win over the Timberwolves.

Smith Jr. typically plays ahead of Barea, but Sunday night will be the 15th game he’s missed this season -- the third straight with mid-back tightness.

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