36-year-old New York Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni is interested in returning to the NBA next year, contrary to previous reports. While his playoff performance has inspired some positive “whirlies” thanks to his ball-handling, shot-making and overall unselfishness, the Knicks should proceed with caution.
It sounds crazy to say this, considering how integral he was to his team’s late season success, but consider this: the NBA is a young man’s game and the grinding season tends to expose age and induce injury.
Prigioni only has to look to his elder teammate, the 40-year-old Jason Kidd and the extremely seasoned Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash to see what age-related breakdowns in the NBA look like.
When Kidd was playing in his rookie season Ace of Base‘s “The Sign” was the top song in the country. When Nash was playing in his rookie year, Cuba Gooding, Jr. won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the film Jerry Maguire. You might remember Gooding’s celebration when his name was called.
As shocking as those historical references are in relation to their careers, the infirmities they incurred on the court this season were equally appalling.
Need you be reminded that Kidd did not score a single point in 10 games during the playoffs? The juice he had earlier in the season, when he was nailing open threes and facilitating the Knicks offense, completely evaporated in the postseason. That was probably due to the fact that he played in 76 of 82 games in the regular season.
Meanwhile, the 39-year-old Nash missed 24 games due to a lower leg fracture and only played in two playoff games before bowing out with hip, hamstring and back issues. Kidd averaged just six points in the regular season, a career low. And Nash played in his fewest games in 14 years.
Unfortunately, professional players blessed to have careers that last into their latter 30s and even 40s, can see their talents crash down mountains, Everest-sized. Body parts and bones they didn’t know they had begin to fracture.
The Knicks should consider the cases of Kidd and Nash when pondering whether to resign Prigioni. While I’m not saying they shouldn’t bring him back, they should have some sort of contingency plan and lots of Geritol.
Tacuma R. Roeback is a New York Knicks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TacumaRoe, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+.