Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas reports:

Jose Juan Barea

Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea, a first-time free agent whenever the NBA lockout is lifted, strongly believes he will be back to defend the franchise’s first championship.

“If you want to go by percentages, I think 75 percent I’ll be back in Dallas and 25 percent something else happens,” Barea said, now back home in Puerto Rico after a bid to qualify for the 2012 Olympics fell painfully short with a semifinals loss to host country Argentina at the FIBA Americas Tournament. “… My first option is going to be Dallas.”

That comes as little surprise. Immediately after Barea helped the Mavericks capture the title with a fearless postseason run that surely worked to increase his value on the free agent market, Barea said his loyalty belongs to Dallas, the team that signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Northeastern five years ago.

In a typical year, Barea likely would have locked up his future two months ago, since free agency normally begins on July 1. However, this year that was the date that NBA’s collective bargaining agreement expired, the owners locked out the players and league business ceased.