Nash has only played in six games this season, and he hasn't played since November 10 due to a back injury, which has apparently been very painful. Longtime NBA writer Peter Vecsey tweeted out that he was hearing that Nash was considering retirement due to the pain.
Ramona Shelburne from ESPN.com provided us with this quote from head coach Mike D'Antoni on Nash, and it didn't exactly sound positive.
However, while rumors have been swirling about Nash's career being over, he's officially denied them. According to Ben Bolch from the Los Angeles Times, Nash had this to say about calling it quits:
“No, not at all,” Nash said Friday morning of rumors that he is considering calling it a career after 18 NBA seasons. “I don’t know where that came from. For me, I realize I have about 18 months left of basketball and I want the most out of this that I can possibly get and I don’t know if that’s going to be one game or the vast majority of what’s left, but I have a long life without basketball, so I don’t want to give in too soon.
“The way I look at this is, I can get back to health; it’s just how sustainable is it with all the unpredictable forces and demands on my back?” Nash said. “I want to make sure that I’m not racing to get back but really solve this problem as well as I can so I can sustain it whenever I do come back.”
Although he's denying any thoughts of retiring during the season, it makes sense as to why the rumors came up. Nash is currently 39 years old and will hit 40 in February. Back injuries can be considerably painful, and at his age, retirement is certainly a possibility.
Still, Nash has shown that he can be a productive player when on the court. Last season, he averaged 12.7 points and 6.7 assists per game while shooting 49.7 percent from the field, 43.8 percent from behind the arc and 92.2 percent from the charity stripe.
The Lakers will need Nash to come back. Steve Blake has been a solid starting replacement, averaging 9.8 points and 7.3 assists per game. However, he is a more ideal player coming off of the bench, coming in and playing fewer minutes but making the most of his opportunities.
Overall, Nash is still a valuable player for the Lakers. They're currently sitting at 5-7, but once Kobe Bryant returns, and hopefully Nash as well, they could be in good shape to earn a spot in the playoffs by the end of the year.