Steve Nash on not retiring from NBA: “I want the Money”

steve-nash-contract-retireIt’s safe to say that the past two seasons haven’t gone the way that Steve Nash or the Los Angeles Lakers had hoped for. The Lakers entered last season with title hopes, only to struggle to land the West’s seventh seed and get swept out of the first round by the Spurs. This year has been even worse since LA is currently tied with Utah for the West’s worst record at 22-44. Nash has rarely been on the court for these struggles either since he’s played in just 65 of a possible 164 regular season games the past two seasons.

This total won’t go up either because, after playing just 10 games this year, Nash will sit out the rest of the 2013-14 campaign due to leg and back injuries. At 40 years old and stuck in the second year of a three-year contract with a team going nowhere, one might think that the two-time MVP would consider retirement. However, retiring is the furthest thing from Nash’s mind right now.

In an interview/documentary with ESPN’s Grantland, which is about as candid as you can get, Nash flat-out admitted that he’s sticking with the Lakers for one more season so that he can get the remainder of his deal. Responding to all of the Lakers fans who’ve been bashing him for continuing to play, Nash told Grantland, “It’s just a reality, I’m not going to retire because, you know, I want the money. It’s honest.”

Signed prior to the 2012-13 season, Nash’s three-year contract gives him $27.9 million – $8.9 million last season, $9.3 million this year, and $9.7 million for the 2014-15 campaign. So yea, there’s definitely some motivation for Nash to play one more season and collect on nearly $10 million more before heading off into retirement.

Of course, continuing to play could have negative implications on how people view Nash’s career when he retires – at least in the minds of Lakers fans. But you also have to consider that the 8-time All-Star is human and he’s got a right to keep playing basketball. “We want honest athletes but at the same time you know you’re going to have people out there who are like, ‘Oh man, he’s so greedy, he’s already made X amount of money in his career and he’s got to take this last little bit,” Nash said in response to his critics. “Yes, I do. I have to take this last little bit. I’m sorry if that is frustrating to some. But if they were in my shoes they would do exactly the same thing. I don’t believe for a minute that they wouldn’t.”

steve-nash-contract-retire-1It’s also worth mentioning in all of this is that Nash didn’t suddenly become a greedy money hoarder, looking for one final big payday at the expense of his last team. As the 3-part Grantland documentary shows, he’s working hard to rehab his back and knee in an effort to play well next season. From hitting the weight room to doing yoga on the beach, the storied point guard isn’t just trying to be a leech on the Lakers organization. He said as much with the following excerpt:

While I’m not willing to retire and give up that last year of my contract, I’m also not willing to sit back and say ‘Yeah, I don’t quite feel it today’ and ‘Yeah, I don’t quite feel it’ the next day and so on and so forth until I’m forgotten about and the contract is over. But that’s just not me. I still love the game enough. I still love the fight and want to do everything I can to get back out there. That is a real, genuine affection for this game that I have.

One of the last things that Nash discussed was how he doesn’t want to hold the organization back or prevent LA from evaluating younger players during this meaningless season. Now that he’s officially sidelined for the rest of the year, he certainly won’t be standing in anybody’s way.

It’s hard to see Nash making a huge impact next season, especially the way this year has gone, with him averaging 7.6 PPG, 4.7 APG and shooting just 36% in 10 appearances. This definitely isn’t the same guy who fueled nearly unstoppable offenses during lengthy stints with the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns.

But even if Nash fails miserably to rekindle any sort of magic in his last year with the Lakers, he’ll at least retire with some outstanding numbers. The Canadian boasts career averages of 14.3 PPG, 8.5 APG, 90.4% free-throw shooting and 42.8% three-point shooting. Regardless of how salty LA fans may be about him sticking out the last season of a guaranteed contract, you can’t deny Nash’s career-long success. And it’s sure to land him a spot in the NBA Hall of Fame someday.

Stephen Curry vs. Mark Jackson Three-Point Contest features Big Surprise

mark-jackson-stephen-curry-three-point-contestA clip recently surfaced of the Golden State Warriors having fun at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. And the highlight of this fun: a three-point contest between All-Star Stephen Curry and his coach, Mark Jackson.

Actually, this doesn’t sound like much of a contest at all because Curry is one of the deadliest sharpshooters in the NBA, boasting a career 43.9% shooting average from behind the arc. His shooting form is just as pretty as his numbers suggest.

Jackson, on the other hand, has a few things working against him. For starters, it’s been a decade since he last played an NBA game. And although he wasn’t totally inept from the three-point line when he did play, Jackson was a mediocre 33.2% shooter from downtown. And as for his shooting form, well, the former Pacers guard’s ugly push shot leaves a lot to be desired.

So, with the background now set, would you believe that Jackson actually dominated his young padawan in this three-point contest? As can be seen in this clip, Curry shot a very disappointing 6-for-15 from three different spots on the court. Meanwhile, Jackson showed that he can be very proficient when given all day to shoot as he went 9-for-10 during the challenge – sweeping all three spots in the process.

Jackson did have a small advantage in that he got two years of practice at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse court (then-Conseco Fieldhouse practice court) in the late 90s. However, it’s still an impressive showing from the old veteran. Curry took the beating in stride, joking afterward about how this was like a regular season college game, and he would turn things on if there was an NCAA Tournament-style three-point contest among the Warriors.

He’s no doubt got more competitive things to worry about with Golden State battling for playoff positioning in the tough Western Conference. The 36-24 Warriors are currently the sixth seed in the West, four-and-a-half games behind the fifth-seeded Rockets (40-19) and fourth-seeded Clippers (41-20). However, they’re only half a game ahead of seventh-seeded Phoenix Suns and eighth-seeded Dallas Mavericks.

Dwight Howard to Houston and Other Big NBA Offseason Moves

dwight-howard-hostonThe Houston Rockets are the big winners of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. Many NBA analysts and writers tabbed Houston as the favorite to land the 7-time All-Star center all along. And Howard confirmed these rumors with the following tweet:

I’ve decided to become a member of the Houston Rockets. I feel its the best place for me and I am excited about joining the Rockets and I’m looking forward to a great season. I want to thank the fans in Los Angeles and wish them the best.

Many people wondered if Howard would stay at least one more season since the Lakers could’ve offered him $30 million next year. However, he decided that a four-year, $88 million deal with Houston was plenty of money.

He’ll now join a strong Rockets cast that features All-Star shooting guard James Harden (26.3PPG, 6.7RPG), small forward Chandler Parsons (18.2PPG, 6.5RPG), point guard Patrick Beverley (11.8PPG, 2.8APG) and center Omer Asik (12.3PPG, 11.2RPG). Asik isn’t expected to be in Houston much longer though since the Rockets are furiously trying to trade him with the arrival of Howard.

Five teams with cap room courted the thee-time Defensive Player of the Year, including the Lakers, Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks. But after considering all of the offers, Howard chose to go with the team that he feels gives him the best opportunity to win.

dwight-howardThis was supposed to be what Los Angeles was last season. However, they struggled all year long, finally making the playoffs as a seventh seed. Leading scorer Kobe Bryant went down at the end of the regular season, which heavily contributed to San Antonio’s easy sweep of the Lakers. With an aging Bryant still rehabbing his ruptured Achilles tendon, Howard figured that Houston’s young nucleus of Harden, Parsons and Beverley gives him a better long-term chance to win.

Dwight Howard’s signing has created a slight domino effect where other big-name players have finally ended their team search. That said, let’s take a look at some of the recent NBA offseason moves and rumors.

Pistons land Next Best Thing in Josh Smith 

josh-smith-hawksWith several teams focused on Howard, Josh Smith was somewhat of an afterthought in the free agent market…except in the Detroit Piston’s eyes. Detroit management made it clear from the start that Smith was their man, and he rewarded them by signing a 4-year deal worth $56 million.

Last year was pretty dismal for the Pistons after they finished 29-53 and never made a serious playoff push. So having a multi-talented power forward like Smith on board will immediately pay dividends. He averaged 17.5 PPG, 8.4 RPG and 4.2 APG for the Hawks last season. Detroit figures to have one of the league’s better front courts since they also feature 6’11” Greg Monroe (16.0PPG, 9.6RPG) and 6’10” Andre Drummond (7.9PPG, 7.6RPG, 1.6BPG).

Gasol staying put with Lakers

pau-gasol-steve-nashTo say that Pau Gasol struggled to find his place last year with Howard in the lineup was an understatement. The Spaniard suffered one of his worst season ever after averaging 13.7 PPG, 8.6 RPG and shooting 46.6% – all down from career averages of 18.4 PPG, 9.2 RPG and 51.8%.

This being said, it was thought that L.A. might trade Gasol if Howard re-signed with them. Since this fell through, it’s a given that the Lakers will keep Gasol, and he’s likely to move back over from power forward to his natural center position.

Paul Millsap signs Two-Year Deal with Hawks

paul-millsapNow out of the running for Howard and all but guaranteed to lose Smith, Atlanta salvaged something by inking a two-year, $19 million deal with Paul Millsap. The former Utah Jazz power forward averaged 14 PPG and 7 RPG last season, and should make a nice compliment to center Al Horford and PG Jeff Teague.

Millsap’s Utah teammate, DeMarre Carroll, will also be coming to the Hawks after signing a two-year, $5 million deal. The fourth-year man out of Missouri averaged 6.0 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 16.8 MPG.

Dallas Mavericks grab Jose Calderon

There is no consolation prize to losing Dwight Howard this summer – especially for a desperate Mavericks team. But they’re hoping that the addition of PG Jose Calderon can boost their chances of returning to the playoffs next season.

Calderon, who played with both the Raptors and Pistons in 2013, signed a fairly big four-year, $29 million deal with Dallas. He averaged 11.3 PPG, 7.1 APG and shot 90.4% from the free-throw line last year.

San Antonio is eyeing Kenyon Martin

Despite being 35 years old, Kenyon Martin showed that he still has something left in the tank after averaging 7.2 PPG and 5.3 RPG for the New York Knicks. Now that he’s a free agent, the Spurs are interested in adding him to their bench. He would back up Tim Duncan at power forward and spell Tiago Splitter at center.

Chris Copeland signs with the Pacers

Chris Copeland may not be much of a defender, but he can definitely provide some offense (8.7PPG) along with a nice three-point touch (42.1%). Taking this into account, Indiana picked up the second-year man out of Colorado through a two-year, $6.1 million deal. As a hybrid small forward/power forward, he’ll definitely give the Pacers a different look off the bench.

Houston Rockets want Dwight Howard, trying to trade Thomas Robinson

dwight-howardA few weeks ago, the Houston Rockets finished up a pretty solid season after making the playoffs and taking two games from the Western Conference’s number one seed, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Of course, there is definitely room for improvement following a first round playoff exit, and the Rockets are looking to spend big in the free agent market this summer. Their first choice appears to be Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard.

Apparently, Houston has been interested in Howard for quite some time and are trying to clear cap space for the seven-time NBA All-Star. Seeing as how he’ll command a maximum contract, the Rockets desperately want to have enough cap space by July’s free agency period. Their first step to making this happen involves attempting to unload top-five draft pick Thomas Robinson for anything they can get.

dwight-howardThe 6’10” power forward is expendable after a disappointing rookie season that was split between Sacramento and Houston. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski wrote about this with the following:

The Houston Rockets are determined to trade forward Thomas Robinson – the fifth pick in the 2012 NBA draft – to create salary-cap space for the pursuit of the Los Angeles Lakers’ free-agent superstar Dwight Howard, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Rockets have made clear to multiple rival teams that they plan to accept the best offer to move Robinson and eliminate his $3.52 million salary for the 2013-14 season.

Without the salary of Robinson and others, the Rockets will have the space to offer Howard a maximum deal starting at approximately $20.5 million a season.

thomas-robinsonIt’s no surprise that Robinson is trade bait in this situation. After being selected fifth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Kansas product has failed to live up to expectations. He played 51 games in his rookie season for Sacramento and averaged 4.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 0.4 BPG. Robinson was then traded to Houston, where he played the final 19 games of his rookie year and didn’t do much better after averaging 4.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 0.3 BPG.

Going back to Howard, the 6’11” rock-solid center would definitely give Houston the star power they need to enter the Western Conference’s upper echelon. The Rockets already feature shooting guard James Harden, who averaged 25.9 PPG, 5.8 APG, 4.9 RPG and 1.82 SPG last season. They also have solid role players in Jeremy Lin (13.4 PPG, 6.1 APG), Chandler Parsons (15.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG), Carlos Delfino (10.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG) and Omer Asik (10.1 PPG, 11.7 RPG).

Putting Dwight Howard in the middle of all this could make them a top 3-4 team next season. In 76 games for the Lakers, he averaged 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 2.4 BPG while shooting 57.8% from the field. And these numbers came despite playing alongside several other career All-Stars such as Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.

Of course, picking Howard up is no guarantee because the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors are also hot on his trail. Plus they still need to find a taker for Robinson, which may not yield a lot in return.

There’s also the matter of Los Angeles still being able to sign Howard. This is a definite possibility since the Lakers will have plenty of talent again next year. On the other hand, Howard may not want to relive last season’s disaster, where L.A. was most one of the most disappointing teams in NBA history.

The free agency period starts on July 1st, so it’ll be interesting to see where Howard is leaning after this point.