Najera May Join Mavs Organization As Coach

Eddie Najera - better known as 'El Rayo' to readers and Mavs fans - is at a crossroads. He's been cleared to resume his basketball career after sustaining a fractured forehead (!) but in my visit with him early today, Najera says he may be ready to go into retirement ... and into coaching with the Mavs organization.

Eduardo Najera has been a crowd favorite wherever he's 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 that caused him to become beloved in Dallas and elsewhere despite career averages of 5.2 points and 3.9 rebounds with the Mavericks, Warriors, Nuggets, Nets and last year with the Bobcats, which he calls "an interesting experience.''

Once upon a time, Eddie was a one-man full-court press, a pain-in-the-ass 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,'' 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 ...''

You know what they say: Once you're thinking about retirement, you're kinda already retired. In the case of the OU 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 ...

My semi-joke about Najera's post-playing career isn't completely silly. From Mexican politics to myriad buisness opportunities to coaching in the NBA ... they are all viable options for Eddie 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),'' Eddie 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.''

Dallas Basketball Top Stories