As we discussed last spring, many Los Angeles Lakers fans were already angry that Steve Nash chose to come back this season, rather than retire. After all, he’s been paid $18.2 million for two seasons that he barely played in. And fans especially won’t be happy now that he’ll get another $9.8 million to sit out the entire 2014-15 season.
Now in his 19th season, Nash won’t even make the Lakers’ opening tip-off as the team announced the bad news. The two-time league MVP was hoping for one more chance to flash the play-making skills that have made him an NBA legend. A nerve root irritation in his back sidelined him for all but 15 games last season. He then rehabbed his back for several months in the offseason and hoped that this would do the trick. However, Nash began feeling more pain in the preseason and even strained his back while carrying travel bags.
”Being on the court this season has been my top priority, and it is disappointing to not be able to do that right now,” Nash told the media. ”I work very hard to stay healthy, and unfortunately my recent setback makes performing at full capacity difficult. I will continue to support my team during this period of rest, and will focus on my long-term health.”
A Lakers’ news release claims that Nash will continue to “focus on rest and rehabilitation” during the remainder of the season. Interestingly enough, there was no mention of retirement, despite the fact that the Canadian is in the final year of his three-year contract. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak praised Nash’s efforts to try and get back on the court as he stated:
As disappointed as we are for ourselves and our fans, we’re even more disappointed for Steve. We know how hard he’s worked the last two years to try to get his body right for the rigors of the NBA, and how badly he wants to play, but unfortunately he simply hasn’t been able to get there up to this point in time. Steve has been a consummate professional, and we greatly appreciate his efforts.
Bringing Nash over from the Phoenix Suns in 2012 has proven to be a very costly and damaging move. L.A. gave up four draft picks for him in addition to adding $27.8 million to their salary cap for the next three years. Los Angeles will be taking a $9.8 million cap hit this season for a guy who won’t play a single minute. Barring any miracle comeback, Nash will likely end his stint with L.A. having played 65 games in three seasons.
The injury won’t really have much impact on the team from an overall perspective. The Lakers are in a strange transitional phase where Kobe Bryant is at the tail-end of his career and the organization needs to develop young talent. If Nash does indeed retire or play somewhere else next season, it will mark the end of a disastrous 2012 attempt to surround Bryant with a strong supporting cast. Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol have since moved on while Nash will miss the 2014-15 season.
Switching to Los Angeles Lakers betting, the team is projected to miss the playoffs for a second straight season. They added Jeremy Lin and veteran Ronnie Price at point guard, so the loss of Nash won’t hurt too badly. However, L.A. is too young and unproven to be considered a serious postseason threat this year. And Bryant may be at an age where injuries have taken their toll and will make it hard for him to carry a team.