Due to multiple calf injuries, point guard J.J. Barea played just 35 games for the Dallas Mavericks this season, averaging 10.9 points and 5.5 assists over 22.0 minutes per contest.
At 32 years old, Barea still likely has a few more productive seasons to offer at the NBA level, but he’s going to be spending his offseason in a very interesting and unexpected way.
The Puerto Rican professional team Indios de Mayaguez hired Barea to be their head coach for the remainder of their 2017 season that runs through June 27, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
Barea played for the team in the 2001 and 2012 seasons at the start of his pro hoops career.
“I didn't know it was going to happen now, but I always wanted to coach later on when I finished playing," Barea said. "This is my hometown team, where I played when I was getting started. I think it's going to be a great experience for myself and see if I really like this and see what I learn and if it can help me out for the future.”
MacMahon reports that Indios de Mayaguez is currently in last place with a 7-14 record and that after running one practice, Barea will make his coaching debut on Thursday.
Given his experience within the Puerto Rican league, in the NBA and in international play over the years, he is more than qualified to draw up plays and make appropriate decisions during crucial moments.
Before accepting the position, he received clearance from Mavs owner Mark Cuban, head coach Rick Carlisle as well as the NBA league office.
"Great opportunity for J.J. and he will do a tremendous job," Carlisle told MacMahon via text message. You have to wonder if a little of Carlisle's coaching will rub off on Barea.
As imagined, Barea has apparently considered a coaching career as an NBA or college assistant after his playing days are over. But, he foresees another few seasons suiting up in the NBA before moving onto his next profession.
"I haven't thought too much that far yet," Barea said. "I still want to play four or five more years, and then we'll go from there.”
As an aging point guard on a rebuilding roster in Dallas, Barea is under contract through the 2018-2019 season. While his contract is fully guaranteed through that point, it remains to be seen whether or not he will sign another deal afterwards or if he will decide to pursue a coaching career instead. After his experience in Puerto Rico this summer, he will see if he's cut out for that future career.