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Tuesday, July 13, 2010
For Najera, easy come, hard to go

By By Jeff Caplan

When Eduardo Najera returned to the Dallas Mavericks mid-season for a second stint, he couldn't wipe the smile off his face.

"I love it [being back in Dallas]," Najera said. "I always kept a home here even when I was gone, so I was never really gone, gone. During the summer I was around the city, around the people, so deep down when I was gone I was hoping that I would actually come back."

Now, he's gone again. Najera was included in Tuesday's Erick Dampier trade-chip deal that also sent Matt Carroll to Charlotte for centers Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca.

Dallas drafted Najera out of Oklahoma in 2000 and he spent the first four seasons of his career with the Mavs. He'll go down as the lone player involved in the trades that brought Dampier to the Mavs and saw him go. In 2004, Dallas sent Najera, Christian Laettner, two first-round picks and the draft rights to two others to the Golden State Warriors for Dampier, Dan Dickau, Evan Eschmeyer and the drafts rights to another player.

The Mavs will miss the edge Najera brings, which was on full aggression-mode in the playoff series against the Spurs. With the Mavs needing to flex some muscle, Najera picked up a Flagrant 2 for a hard takedown of Manu Ginobili and he added another flagrant while enforcing his "no layup rule" on Tony Parker.

Najera will take that toughness to Charlotte, his fifth team and sixth stop as he heads into an 11th NBA season.