Earlier today, it was reported that the Los Angeles Lakers will actually not use the stretch provision on injury plagued point guard Steve Nash.
It was previously believed that Nash was already penciled in to be waived at the conclusion of this season, however, recent conflicting reports say otherwise. The reasoning behind the plan to retain Nash on the roster next season is more forward thinking than believing that he still has the capability to be a contributor. Of course, the Lakers’ franchise admires all of the hard work that he has put into attempting a comeback, so I’m sure that this had something to do with it as well.
If Los Angeles was to waive Nash, his career would, in all likelihood, be finished. Just like that, one of the greatest point guards in the past few decades would be gone. Nash even said it himself when asked a question regarding the stretch provision: “That would be it,” he said. “I’ll either be back here or I’ll be done.” That’s certainly not the way any Hall of Fame player would want to go out, especially since head coach Mike D’Antoni informed us last week that Nash is doubtful to return this season. Nash has been sidelined with nerve root damage in his back/leg caused from a fractured leg suffered in just his second game with the team.
Furthermore, from a franchise standpoint, the idea of allowing Nash to play out his contract makes sense if the team is headed towards the Kevin Love direction. Love will be an unrestricted free agent in the 2015 offseason and he has been the center of rumors, stating that the All-Star has tons of interest in joining the Lakers. Although nothing is a definite, it seems at this time, this is the route that Los Angeles has decided to go. This would in turn cost the franchise another season of competing, as they will have to wait to pursue him.
Is this the best decision? I don’t know. I can say this though, if the Lakers are presented with the opportunity to acquire two of the marquee free agents this offseason, the Love plan may go out the window.
When Kobe Bryant signed his two year extension this year, he inked it with the expectations that Los Angeles will build a much more competitive team. Yet, Bryant will have only one year left on his deal if and when Love arrives. Winning a championship is difficult in itself, so winning with a brand new superstar in a one year window is almost impossible. Who knows, Bryant may not even have enough gas left in the tank at the conclusion of his contract to chase after one again.
Teams have learned in the past that they cannot put all of their eggs in one basket. Assuming in the NBA usually ends in self-destruction. For such a powerful franchise such as the Lakers to strike out twice in the span of four years (Dwight Howard) would cause an uprising from both the fans and Bryant. It is a difficult situation, but we will have to trust the judgment of GM Mitch Kupchak. If he believes that the Lakers have a legitimate shot at landing Love, we will see Nash on the roster next season. On the contrary, if Kupchak decides to attempt to build a contender this summer, Nash will likely be waived. Only time will tell at this point.