A Mexican native, Najera played college basketball at the University of Oklahoma before being drafted in the second round of the 2000 NBA Draft. While at the University of Oklahoma, Najera was one of the team’s leaders on the court and in the locker room during his three-year stay.
Najera averaged 4.9 points and 3.8 rebounds, but it was his physical, aggressive style of play resulting in tipped offensive rebounds, leadership and “soft” skills that made him stand out. However, knee injuries also limited him, at times causing him to be shuffled in and out of the regular rotation.
In 2004, Najera was traded to the Golden State Warriors along with Luis Flores, Christian Laettner, Mladen Sekularac, a 2007 first-round draft pick, a future first-round draft pick and cash considerations in exchange for Erick Dampier, Dan Dickau, Evan Eschmeyer and Steve Logan.
Najera was once again used modestly in a half-season with Golden State, averaging 4.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, but once again showing the needed “soft" skills making him stand out in a special way.
Along with Luis Flores, Najera was traded to the Denver Nuggets in February 2005 in exchange for Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Rodney White (two players that did not prove their worth in Denver).
In Denver, Najera became an instant fan-favorite and was starting for a period of time, averaging a career-high 6.9 points per game during the second part of the 2004-05 NBA season. Najera went on to spend three-and-a-half seasons in Denver before becoming a free agent.
As a free agent, Najera signed a four-year contract worth $12 million with the New Jersey Nets in 2008 after receiving higher offers from several teams. There, he looked to tutor the Nets' younger players at the time, Yi Jianlian and Brook Lopez.
However, Najera played in only 40 regular season games with the Nets and was moved in early 2010, in part due to a groin injury suffered in 2009. Najera was traded to the Dallas Mavericks (his second stint with Dallas) in exchange for Kris Humphries and Shawne Williams.
With the Mavericks, Najera was not that much of a factor as hoped, but he did see spots of playing time during both the regular season and the playoffs. However, the Mavericks saw their season end at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs during the postseason, signaling another disappointing ending.
The Mavericks were determined to make some changes during the offseason and unloaded Najera, along with Erick Dampier, and Matt Carroll, to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for big men Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca.
Najera was sad to leave Dallas once again, but was also looking forward to joining a young Bobcats organization.The Mavericks were ready to start over with new big men, while the Bobcats were looking to start over and add some veteran experience to their team at the same time.
With two years remaining on his contract, Najera saw himself relegated to the bench in Charlotte. But, although they were sparse, he did see some minutes. In 31 games last season, he averaged 2.2 points and 1.4 rebounds in 12 minutes of playing time per game.
This year, Najera is entering the final year of his contract and is a player that can be a valued addition to a team seeking depth and rebounding in the front court. He is also one of the first players to high-five players as they come back to the bench or are getting ready to enter the game.
So, it would not be surprising to see him end up with another team (possibly a contender)--either via trade or buyout--where he could become a more consistent contributor both on the court and in the locker room.
Najera is not the type of player to complain about his minutes, so being traded is the most logical way he is moved out of Charlotte.
If Najera remains in Charlotte for the remainder of the season, he will continue to be a positive presence and not complain about anything. The NBA needs to notice this, as there are not too many players like this in the league today.