Eduardo Najera is retiring from the NBA to become the coach of the NBA D-League’s Texas Legends, according to sources with knowledge of the decision.
Sources related that Najera, although he doesn’t have any important coaching experience, has accepted the offer from Mavericks president of basketball operations and Legends joint owner Donnie Nelson to take over from Del Harris as coach of the Mavs’ D-League affiliate.
Najera also will have an ownership percentage in the Legends, sources say, and similarly receive a to-be-determined title working under Nelson in the Mavericks’ front office. Sources say Harris, who turned 75 in June, will return to his original role as Legends GM and also coach Najera as the 36-year-old makes the transition to coaching.
Selected by the Rockets on the Mavericks’ behalf with the 38th pick in the 2000 NBA draft, Najera played 12 seasons in the NBA, most recently with the Bobcats. Najera was the 1st Mexican-born player to be drafted by an NBA team and will become the 1st Mexican-born coach in either the NBA or its development league.
University of Texas-Arlington alumnus Kaleb Canales, born in Laredo, became the 1st Mexican-American to serve as an NBA head coach when he was named interim coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, going 8 -15 last season. Najera came to the U.S. in 1994 to play 2 seasons of high school ball and learn English before starring at the University of Oklahoma.
Earlier this summer, Najera had been cleared to resume his playing career after an elbow he absorbed in April from Milwaukee’s Jon Brockman ended in a broke frontal bone that needed 12 screws and a mesh screen to be inserted into Najera’s forehead. But sources say Najera, after a long career that made him just the 2nd player from Mexico to make it into the NBA (after the undrafted Horacio Llamas) and which featured 2 stints with Dallas Mavericks, has decided that he wants to start his coaching career in earnest.
Sources say Harris and Najera’s soon-to-be-finalized coaching staff will be charged with helping him conform on a make-shift basis to his new job. Legends assistant coach and longtime NBA guard David Wesley recently left the organization to join the Hornets’ broadcast team and fellow Legends helper Scott Flemming just got named head coach of India’s national team.
Najera is placed to become the 3rd coach in as many seasons for the ever-innovative Nelson, after Hall of Famer and longtime Dallas resident Nancy Lieberman – who was the 1st female to teach a men’s team under the NBA’s umbrella – and former NBA Coach of the Year Harris. NFL odds
Harris has spent the past 2 summers as a top assistant to John Calipari with the Dominican Republic’s state team, which dropped just short of qualifying for the Olympic Games in July, while also serving as a consultant to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban after a 7-year run in Dallas as an assistant to Mavs coaches Don Nelson and Avery Johnson.