Following a season that saw him need knee surgery and skull surgery (to repair a fracture) Eduardo Najera has decided to retire as a player and next season will be the coach of the Dallas Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
This is not a surprise to regular PBT readers, we told you this could be coming a couple weeks ago.
Najera will replace Del Harris, the veteran NBA coach who patrolled the D-League sidelines last season. Najera becomes the first Mexico-born coach of an NBA or D-League team.
Najera also will have an ownership stake in the Legends, sources say, and likewise receive a to-be-determined title working under (Mavericks GM Donnie) Nelson in the Mavericks’ front office. Sources say Harris, who turned 75 in June, will return to his original role as Legends general manager and also mentor Najera as the 36-year-old makes the transition to coaching.
The announcement is expected to come Wednesday in a press conference in Mexico City.
If Eduardo Najera wanted to play for an NBA team next season, he could. He has recovered from a frightening fractured scull/forehead and has doctor’s clearance. There has been interest in him at the veteran’s minimum from teams like the Rockets and Timberwolves.
But when he spoke to DallasBasketball.com, he sounded like a guy leaning toward retirement and coaching.
“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,” Eddie tells me. “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 …”
And he trailed off.
Peter Vecsey tweeted he heard the same thing and that may be where he is headed. Kind of sounds like it. But when his agent shows up with an offer for one year and $1.2 million, walking away may be harder.
It was inadvertent — an elbow from Milwaukee’s Jon Brockman that caught Charlotte’s Eduardo Najera in the forehead as both went for a rebound.
The elbow fractured Najera’s skull. That’s about as dangerous as it sounds.
He had surgery on Saturday to repair it and he is done for the season, the Bobcats announced (Marc Spears of Yahoo broke the news.) Najera is expected to make a full recovery.
Not only is the 12-year veteran done for the season we may not see Najera back in the NBA — he is a 36-year-old free agent to be who is not really earning minutes on the Bobcats. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get a contract to play overseas, but he may have a hard time finding employment in the NBA. Najera was one of the few NBA players ever to come out of Mexico.