The Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Nets have reached a verbal agreement on a trade that will send reserve forward Kris Humphries and exiled swingman Shawne Williams to the Nets and bring forward Eduardo Najera back to Dallas for a second stint after the Mavericks acquired him in the 2000 draft.
NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com on Friday night that the Nets agreed to use a trade exception to absorb the $2.4 million expiring contract of Williams, which clinched the deal. Dallas sent Williams away from the team last season over concerns about his professionalism and did not let him return this season.
Sources said both teams have signed off on the swap but formal NBA approval is not expected before Monday when the league office reopens.
Sources said the Nets will waive Williams as soon as they get him and must also release another player -- all signs as of Friday night pointed to former first-round pick Sean Williams -- to create the required roster space to make the trade.
The teams had been discussing the deal for several days but talks appeared to break down when the Nets shifted their focus earlier in the week to the buyout of veteran guard Rafer Alston and the acquisition of reserve guard Chris Quinn from Miami.
Although Najera remains popular locally after a successful four-season stint as an energy guy to start his career, Dallas' motivations for making this deal were largely financial.
The Mavericks have been trying to move Shawne Williams for months and shedding his contract along with Humphries' deal will save Dallas nearly $2.5 million in 2009-10 salary, which computes to an overall savings of nearly $5 million when adding in the Mavericks' luxury-tax obligations.
The Nets, by contrast, were willing to take on Humphries -- and the extra $700,000 he's guaranteed next season compared to Najera -- because they're looking for younger players who can supply more hustle and effort to help the team survive the second half of what is threatening to be a historically dismal season.
At 3-32, New Jersey is on a pace for only seven victories, which would make them the worst team in NBA history, replacing the Philadelphia 76ers who posted a 9-73 record in 1972-73.
Sources said that the Nets thus continue to explore their trade and buyout options with several players on their bench -- Josh Boone, Tony Battie, Keyon Dooling and Trenton Hassell are among those that have been shopped recently -- to open up roster spots for fresh blood from the D-League.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.