We Have Likely Seen the Last of Steve Nash in an NBA Uniform
Earlier today it was reported, according to Mike D’Antoni, that point guard Steve Nash is doubtful to return for the remainder of this season. Injury upon injury has forced Nash out the lineup throughout the entirety of his Los Angeles Lakers career. Ever since the point guard suffered a fractured leg against the opposing Portland Trailblazers in just his second game with the team, Nash has experienced nerve root damage in both his lower back and leg.
Nerve root damage sounds awful, let alone imagining to play an NBA game with it. The damage is not something that can be fully cured, so Nash has endured heavy therapy sessions in addition to practicing with the team. If D’Antoni is correct in his prediction, Nash will end up playing only 10 out of the 82 games this season. In the past, injuries have been a problem, but it is uncharacteristic of the circumstances to force him to sit out of a game. For this injury to basically cause Nash to miss the majority of a season, it really tells fans that it is extremely serious and painful.
No one is questioning his toughness or will to play in the games. He has put his ability to walk in the future at risk in order to continue his path toward playing once again. Unfortunately the reality of the situation is that Nash has, in all likelihood, already played the final game of his illustrious career. Yes, he is under contract for $9.7 million next year, however if he is physically unable to perform, Nash may be forced to do a medical retirement. Thus, allowing the Lakers to take his salary off the books for the 2014-15 season.
On the contrary, if he decides not to retire, Los Angeles will almost certainly waive him via the stretch provision. With this option included in the new CBA, an organization is able to cut a player, while spreading their contract over twice the remaining length plus one additional year. Basically, it would spread the $9.7 million over the span of three years. For obvious reasons, Mitch Kupchak will use this provision on Nash because the team is looking towards the future at this point. Opening up an approximately $6 million extra this summer will allow the team to sign a quality player. Assuming the stretch provision is the ultimate outcome, Nash has gone on record stating that he is not willing to play for any other team. He has no desire to move away from his kids or force his kids to move again.
This is sad news as Nash has been one of the most admirable players in the past decade. He deserves to go out on his own terms, but for some players it is not always a possibility.