Steve Nash pauses for air during Sunday's loss to the Chicago Bulls (Getty Images)
We’re not trying to cast dispersions, but through the years New York Daily News NBA columnist Mitch Lawrence has lobbed several significant rumors around print and the web, rumors that were immediately shot down by the players in question. Now, there’s always the idea that these defensive players might be protesting a bit too much, but it’s worth bringing up both sides, here.
On Sunday, Lawrence made a point to discuss the future of Los Angeles Lakers point man Steve Nash, who has missed 78 regular and postseason games over the last two years with various leg and nerve injuries:
Steve Nash finally made it back to the Lakers and has told a few friends this is going to be it, even though he has one season to go on his contract, at $9.7 million. Nash, who turned 40 Friday, doesn’t expect to help much, but that’s been the story of his injury-plagued Laker career. He really missed the camaraderie with his teammates when he was out for three months with a nerve injury in his back, and says he wants to experience that for at least the last part of this season before he calls it a career.
On Monday, Nash downplayed the “few friends” rumor:
"Right now I have no intentions to stop playing." - Steve Nash
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) February 10, 2014
Steve Nash said its not true he's told friends he plans to retire after this season. His hope is he can play out rest of his contract — Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) February 10, 2014
Even with the Lakers far out of the playoff picture, these are heady times for Steve. Seemingly healthy for the first time since his first few weeks with the team in the fall of 2012, Nash suffered yet another leg/nerve injury in a nationally televised loss to the similarly-shorthanded Chicago Bulls on Sunday. Watch:
Nash left the game and did not return. He did practice on Monday and was called “probable” for his team’s next game on Tuesday, but varying reports differed as to whether or not Steve practiced without restriction, or was limited to shooting drills away from the team. Whatever the outlook, and even with his smart and slow return to action, one can expect this issue to linger for the Lakers’ next, sad, 31 games.
All the more reason why you would just have to assume that Nash would want to walk off into the sunset, and not limp his way into retirement. Even if Steve comes back to full health this season, and even if Kobe Bryant does return past the All-Star break (which, as a hoped-for free agent recruiter, one would hope he would), and even if Pau Gasol remains on the team past the trade deadline, this is going to be a limited team that can only hope to act as a playoff spoilsport down the stretch of the season.
This reality, coupled with the $9.7 Nash is owed next season, would presumably inspire Steve to attempt one last healthy go at things in 2014-15, before finally walking away. Perhaps we’re projecting, because nobody wants to see Steve Nash’s Hall of Fame career end in a season like this. We want one more go in 2014-15 with a healthy Bryant, pitched at age 41.
No retirement. Not even a stretch provision. Just Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant finally following through on the basketball promise they inspired in the summer of 2012.
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