The eight-time All Star has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons. He played in just 50 of the Lakers' 82 games last season, averaging 12.7 points and 6.7 assists per game. Friday marked Nash's 11th game of the 2013-14 season, a campaign in which he is averaging a paltry 7.4 points and 5.3 assists per night.
Nash was ruled out for the remainder of the season at one point last week but claimed that he would not retire. Nash's retirement has been on the minds of many analysts ever since he was first injured last season.
At 40 years old, the 18-year veteran is the oldest player in the NBA. His body is not the same as it was when he was at the top of the NBA with the Phoenix Suns, but even still, Nash wants to play in 2014-15.
In fact, if he finishes out this season healthy and on a relatively high note, he should continue to play one more season. Nash says he will because of the money, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com:
I think anyone who has some sort of critical thinking ability looks at the situation and goes, 'Who wouldn't?' It is a contract and we fight [as a player's union] every 5-6-7-8 years to hold on to guaranteed contracts in our business. I came in here with the highest of hopes, broke my leg playing here and I think people respect the fact that that's honest and anyone who says they wouldn't do that probably is not trustworthy.
The point guard is scheduled to make $9.7 million next season.
Money is certainly a motivating factor, but playing again in 2014-15 would set Nash up for something he has never done before—win an NBA championship.
Think about it. The Lakers are actually in a good position to contend next season, even with their horrible record of 22-46 in 2013-14.
Los Angeles is set up with a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft in June, and players like point guards Dante Exum or Marcus Smart are certainly within their grasp. That type of talent is something that can be infused right from the start of the season.
Kobe Bryant will also be back and presumably healthy next season. In fact, Bryant claims that he could play right now:
Kobe Bryant said that if the Lakers were contending, he could play right now.— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) March 19, 2014
Whether or not that's true is irrelevant, really. You can be sure that Bryant will be back and motivated next season in an effort to prove those doubting him wrong.
Honestly, I'm not ruling out renewing my contract, I'm just open to every option. My decision will be based purely on sporting considerations. It couldn't be any other way. I want to be in a team with a real chance of winning a ring and where I can help to compete for it. I would like to win another championship. The financial side comes second at this stage of my career.
The Lakers certainly would be a contender with him in place.
Can the Lakers contend next season?
The window is closing fast for both Nash and the Lakers, but there are plenty of motivating factors for Nash to continue his career at least one more season. If he's not healthy at the end of this year and in training camp, there's really no point in him grinding through another year.
When healthy, Nash is still a consistent performer. He proved that Friday with his 11-assist performance. He can be an important contributor to a Lakers team that might surprise next season.
Winning a ring is really the only thing that Nash has yet to accomplish in the NBA. If healthy next season, he should give it one more shot.