When the Lakers traded for Steve Nash in July of 2012, fans and media alike loved the move. Though Nash was older, he was still very productive for the Phoenix Suns the previous year. Most people made the Lakers the favorite to win the championship after the move.
Fast forward to today and the move looks like the worst possible deal. Due to a freak injury and resulting nerve damage, Nash has played in only 62 of 157 total Lakers games and looks like he doesn’t have much left in the tank.
Further doing damage is the fact that Nash has one more year on his contract for $9.7 million. It is a lot of money to pay for a player who has barely been able to finish a game this season.
With the Lakers approaching a huge off-season, we asked our panel of experts a two-part question: Should Steve Nash retire? And would the Lakers be better off if he did? This is what they had to say:
Ramneet Singh (@Ramneet24): Steve Nash is definitely not the player he once was, and the Lakers have yet to really see the point guard at a high level. Nash has recently returned from injury and it will take some time before he gets back in basketball shape; however, when he does, he will still be struggling to compete on both ends of the court.
The NBA is now a league dominated with athletic point guards and Nash is no longer able to handle these explosive young players. At this point, the Lakers are better off with Jordan Farmar and Kendall Marshall as they can run up and down the court on a nightly basis.
Nash is still under contract, and he is one of the few on the roster for next season. The Lakers are going through a rebuilding process and having Nash’s contract prevents them from having more cap flexibility.
Although no one wishes a Hall of Fame bound player would leave the NBA, Nash retiring from the Lakers will be better off in the long run.
Maybe not this summer, but without Nash in the books, the Lakers will have the ability to entice many big name free agents in the coming years.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): If Steve Nash were going to retire, he should have done it before playing against the Utah Jazz last Tuesday.
Retiring before the matchup against the Jazz would put Nash at nine games on the season and as a result he would’ve been able to walk away in medical retirement.
This medical retirement would’ve taken Nash’s contract off the books for next season freeing up $9.7 million in cap space. Not only would it have benefited the Lakers, but the rest of Nash’s contract would’ve been paid in full.
With that being said, I believe the window for retirement has closed for Nash in terms of it benefiting both the player and the team moving forward. Retiring at this point seems rather useless as he should simply continue to battle and play out the rest of his contract, letting the chips fall where they may.
Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): Most would say ‘Yes, retire already!’ and with good reason. Nash has been unable to contribute consistently, and seemingly has to work extremely hard over the course of six to eight weeks — only to return for three or four games before his nerve issues sideline him once again.
It truly is sad to see one of the greatest point guards of all time struggling to get healthy, but it is what it is at this point. He can’t medically retire this season because he’s already played 10 games, so that option is out.
I’m sure it’s tough for his teammates to watch, but the incredible optimism and positivity Nash exudes throughout the roughest patch of his career should be an inspiration for all.
He’s an incredible competitor, and right now he’s battling to be able to play the game he loves so dearly. He wants to overcome the odds, and still refuses to think of retirement.
That may make it even more heartbreaking when he realizes it simply isn’t possible, or maybe — just maybe — he somehow does manage to overcome this injury and play out this season or even the next.
We’ve seen athletes battle injuries for years, like Nash’s old buddy Grant Hill — albeit at a much younger age — and finally stay healthy and end their careers on a good note. Those stories are always the “feel good” ones that we as sports fans absolutely live for.
Will Nash ever be the same? Probably not, but I think he still has a few battles against this injury before he finally calls it quits. Maybe he’ll end up succumbing to this injury, but hopefully he’ll somehow be able to manage it and go out on his own terms.
Lakers Practice: Coach D’Antoni Talks About Steve Nash’s Legacy (Lakers Nation)