Updates from Sunday, March 23
Mike Turdell of Lakers.com provides a synopsis of Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni discussing Steve Nash's injury status following his return on Friday:
Steve Nash may be 40 years old and fighting through injuries, but he is refusing to give up on his NBA career despite all he's accomplished. Even with the Los Angeles Lakers enduring a down season, Nash is opting to return to the floor Friday against the Washington Wizards.
The Lakers announced the development, which bolsters a thin Lakers rotation that doesn't have much left to play for in the 2013-14 campaign as it is:
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski initially reported Thursday that Nash would return to the lineup—five weeks after being knocked out of action with a back injury. Wojnarowski noted that Nash would back up Kendall Marshall, who is the only other healthy point guard on the roster.
It was initially thought that Nash would be lost for the season, yet he's still gutting it out and trying to helped the storied franchise salvage some semblance of respectability as the Lakers lurk near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Grantland has been documenting Nash's road to recovery amid the twilight of his playing days, and Nash generated controversy by saying he would play out the last year of his contract through next season for financial reasons, per SI.com's Ben Golliver:
It’s just a reality. I’m not going to retire because I want the money. It’s honest. We want honest athletes, but at the same time, you’re going to have people out there saying "He’s so greedy. He’s made x amount of money and he has to take this last little bit." Yes, I do, have to take that last little bit. I’m sorry if that is frustrating to some but if they were in my shoes they would do exactly the same thing. I wouldn’t believe for a minute that they wouldn’t.
One has to admire Nash's authenticity and transparency despite the inevitable blowback for such remarks. ESPN's Arash Markazi expressed respect for Nash but felt he may have taken those comments a bit too far:
Some have even been calling for Nash to retire so that the Lakers don't have to pay him another $9.7 million in 2014-15 and be more flexible in pursuing marquee free agents this summer and next.
Meanwhile, Lakers legend Kobe Bryant will be making $48.5 million over the next two years, and his body is beginning to break down after a myriad of health issues. The same argument can be made there, because there's no guarantee Bryant will be anywhere near the player he's proven capable of being. L.A.'s front office could be handcuffed by his exorbitant salary as well.
It seemed as though Nash would be the perfect candidate to put the Lakers back into championship contention when he arrived with coach Mike D'Antoni. Nash ran D'Antoni's uptempo offense as a member of the Phoenix Suns and won two league MVP awards in that span.
Things have not gone according to plan in the City of Angels, and D'Antoni will be fortunate to hold his job beyond this season despite dealing with injuries to so many key players.
Plenty of uncertainty looms in Laker Nation. Nash clearly doesn't have much left in the tank in addition to Bryant, and whether they even stay together remains to be seen. In any event, Nash's return Friday shows his relentless competitiveness and that he's adamant about making the situation in L.A. work out.
There is still plenty of incentive for Nash to keep plugging away. This was supposed to be his chance to win that elusive first Larry O'Brien Trophy. Everything appears to be in shambles now, but if general manager Mitch Kupchak can lure a marquee player or two into the fold and somehow retain Pau Gasol, perhaps the aging Lakers nucleus has one more good run left.