Lakers player reviews: Steve Nash
June, 4, 2014
By Dave McMenamin
Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports
Steve Nash ran into roadblocks last season, but he intends to finish out the final year of his contract.
Season recap: At this point, there is no denying that the Lakers’ experiment in bringing the aging Nash to L.A. in the tail end of his illustrious career was an abject failure. In just Nash’s second game of his first season with the team, he fractured his left leg, setting off a series of nerve issues he’s dealt with ever since. His second season with the team ended up being even more frustrating than the first. Nash played in just 15 games in 2013-14 with severe nerve-root irritation continuing to plague his back and hamstrings. Nash put up the worst numbers of his career since he became a full-time starter with the Dallas Mavericks back in his third season in the pros. His injuries this season were so pervasive that he never played more than four consecutive games on the schedule before having to sit out for rest or rehabilitation. It was such a rough season, he even lost his starter status, coming off the bench in the final five games he played.
Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 7, his 40th birthday. He scored 19 points on 8-for-15 shooting and added five assists and four rebounds. If it ends up being the last time Nash’s body allows him to play at an elite level, there will always be a lasting image of the former great crossing up Evan Turner and traipsing into the lane for a pretty floater finish.
Season lowlight: It’s hard to pick just one. But taking everything into consideration, the very next game after that win against Philly, Nash ended up colliding with Kirk Hinrich of the Chicago Bulls and getting struck in the exact same spot in his left leg that he had hurt the previous season. Nash’s season was officially off the rails at that point.
Final grade: F
Notes: It was an odd year for Nash. Despite his obvious on-court struggles -- not to mention his short time spent as a Laker -- he still maintained a fair share of clout in L.A. He was a popular locker room figure and developed a mentor-mentee relationship with a handful of his teammates. He also became somewhat of a lightning rod in the media for some honest comments he made in his Grantland documentary web series, “The Finish Line,” in which he states his desire to hold off on retirement so long as there is still guaranteed money owed to him in his contract. He is clearly someone with one foot in and one foot out of the door, and that position has allowed for some unique perspective seeing the league through the eyes of someone who has seen it all.
Quotable: "No regrets. You have to recognize where you are as a franchise, and we felt we had a two-year window, maybe three, to go for a championship. And that's what we did. Looking back on it, which nobody can do, that's a different story. But at the time, we knew exactly what we were doing.” -- Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said while offering late-season comments on acquiring Nash.
What's next?: Nash intends to finish out the final year of his contract and play a 19th and final season in 2014-15. Only, he readily admits that it might not be that easy. "They can't rely on me, frankly," Nash said at his exit interview. "Hopefully, I come back and play 82 games next year and the sky's the limit, but they can't rely on me. We don't know what I'm going to bring." He wants to be a part of the Lakers next season no matter what, however. He knows that once he walks away from the game, he’ll never be able to replicate what it’s like to be one of the guys putting on a jersey every night and fighting for a common goal. If that means he’ll be a bench player supporting younger teammates who are receiving the lion’s share of the playing time, it sounds like he is OK with that scenario.