Najera Torn on Possible Dallas Return
But forward Eduardo Najera, expected Monday to be traded from New Jersey to Dallas, told FanHouse on Sunday night he has some mixed feelings about the deal, even though he was one of the Mavericks' most popular players from 2000-04. Najera has great respect for New Jersey president Rod Thorn and general manager and coach Kiki Vandeweghe.
"Kiki is a good friend and so is Rod,'' said Najera, who played for Vandeweghe for a 1 ½ seasons before he was ousted as Denver's general manager in May 2006 and then rejoined Vandeweghe with New Jersey in the summer of 2008 by signing a four-year, $12 million contract. "The team has grown together even though it has been rough at times (with the losing).''
Still, Najera realizes the Nets are rebuilding. And Najera, 33, knows he doesn't have a lot of time left in his quest to win an NBA title.
"That would be the icing on the cake to go to a championship (contender),'' said Najera, speaking by phone from New Jersey, where he had been sent home from the Nets' road trip. "Of course, if this opportunity (to go to Dallas) happens, then I would be really happy. But if it doesn't, I also would be happy.''
Kris Humphries and Shawne Williams. The Nets then would waive forward Sean Williams to create the necessary roster spot, although Shawne Williams, who has had off-the-court problems and hasn't been with Dallas this season, would likely not report to New Jersey and eventually be waived himself.
Najera was sent back to New Jersey over the weekend, not accompanying the team to San Antonio for Sunday's game, the final one on a three-game trip. While obviously the impending trade factored in that, Najera said it also was an opportunity to continue to do some rehab on his ailing back, which has kept him from playing in all but one game since Dec. 18.
"You know me,'' said Najera, who has been riddled with injuries during his two years with the Nets, playing in just 40 of a possible 119 games. "I always try to play through things. I finally decided that I can't play through it. I've just got to get (the back) stronger.''
Averaging 3.8 points and 2.9 rebounds this season, Najera said he's doing better. He expects to be able to play in about a week, which is when he likely will be wearing a Dallas uniform.
Moves on Najera and Sean Williams would mean the woeful Nets, who bought out the contract of guard Rafer Alston last week, would have dispatched three players since the start of 2010. Next to go could be center Josh Boone, who is being shopped but said he would be content to stay in New Jersey.
"All you can do is go out and play and, if something like (a trade) happens, it happens,'' Boone said in an interview with FanHouse. "A lot of times you might not know (anything until a trade) happens.
"I'd love to stay (with the Nets). I love playing in New Jersey. It's where I've been my whole (four-year career). Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is something like that doesn't always happen. You have to go with the hand that is dealt you.''
As for Najera, he couldn't have picked a better place to end up. The gritty forward played his first four seasons with Dallas before being traded to Golden State in the summer of 2004, a move the Mavericks felt they needed to make to acquire a much-needed center in Erick Dampier.
Dallas officials on several occasions since then have tried to bring back Najera, who has career averages of 5.3 points and 4.0 rebounds, including 4.9 points and 3.9 rebounds during his initial Mavericks stint.
"I am familiar with a lot (of people in Dallas),'' Najera said. "I'm sure it will be a little different than it used to be. I don't know what playing time will be. I've been happy in New Jersey. But, at the same time, when I heard about the rumors (of going to the Mavericks), I was excited.''
Maybe not enough for a ticker-tape parade. But excited enough.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson.