DALLAS — Eduardo Najera tells FOXSportsSouthwest.com and DallasBasketball.com that while he has been cleared to return to the NBA after sustaining a fractured forehead, he’s considering retirement and a possible job in the Dallas Mavericks organization.
Najera has been a crowd favorite wherever he has been during his 12-year NBA career … and the 6-8 scrapper has been just about everywhere. Najera was chosen by Houston with the 38th overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft before having his rights traded to Dallas. He was just the second Mexican-born player in the NBA and was beloved in Dallas and elsewhere despite career averages of 4.9 points and 3.7 rebounds with the Mavericks, Warriors, Nuggets, Nets and last season with the Bobcats, which he calls “an interesting experience.”
Once upon a time, Najera was a one-man full-court press, a pain-in-the-butt instigator and a do-anything forward who helped the Mavs beat Minnesota in a playoff series by being the guy who guarded Kevin Garnett. Now, at age 36, he may be ready to help the Dallas Mavericks again.
“I’ve actually been talking to Donnie (the Mavs GM and the owner of the D-League Texas Legends) for two years about someday going into coaching,” Najera said. “Hey, if I’m going to retire, I’ve got to start doing something, right?”
I asked Najera about reports that Brooklyn, Houston and Minnesota are all interested in talking with him about extending his playing career.
“That’s flattering, but I don’t know anything about that,” he said. “My agent is handling that. I’m open to it, but …”
You know what they say: Once you’re thinking about retirement, you’re kinda already retired. In the case of the Oklahoma product Najera, it would not be difficult for him to rev up his playing engines again.
But then you consider the respect he has for the Mavs organization …
“This organization is by far the best I’ve experienced,” he says. “Donnie and Mark (Cuban) are always on top of everything. … I’m sure they’ll compete again for a championship.”
My semi-joke about Najera’s post-playing career isn’t completely silly. From Mexican politics to myriad business opportunities to coaching in the NBA … they are all viable options for Najera if he opts to retire.
The coaching career wouldn’t likely start downtown, even as the Mavs have a vacancy due to Terry Stotts moving to take over the Blazers. More likely, Najera could move in with the Legends, possibly working alongside Del Harris.
“I live five minutes away from the (Legends headquarters in Frisco),” Najera says. “I haven’t made up my mind yet. I’m going to visit with Donnie and with my family … But if we decide to go that way, it’s a good fit.”