Rumors about Steve Nash retiring have been popping up more and more recently, but the point guard himself is saying that he isn’t thinking about giving up on what’s left of his career just yet. The Los Angeles Lakers, paying too much money to a player who isn’t playing all that well when he isn’t injured, are hoping that this season is his last.
According to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, Nash has already said to his friends that he plans to retire at the end of this season, and he isn’t calling it quits right now because he wants to experience the camaraderie of being in a team with a group of guys for one last time before turning his back on the game.
When asked about it, Nash said the rumors aren’t true:
Steve Nash: “Right now I have no intentions to stop playing.” (Answering a reporter’s question about injuries/retirement)
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 10, 2014
Steve Nash just clarified that there was no truth to the reports/rumors that suggested he was ready to stop playing basketball after this yr
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) February 10, 2014
But players don’t always tell the truth. Neither do reporters and teams. That’s just the business, keeping everyone guessing, and holding all the cards close to your chest. But the truth of the matter is that even thought Nash can still be good on certain nights and make everyone remember just how great of a point guard he was until not too long ago, right now he’s a 40-year old player, the oldest in the NBA, who can’t stay healthy for too long, has a bad back and does more harm than good to the Lakers with both his salary and his ability on the court.
So where to begin when we say the Lakers need to hope Nash retires? His $9.7 million cap hit for next season is a big issue. The Lakers want another big name to add next to Bryant’s, who is making $23.5 million. Aside from them, the only players with a contract for next season are Nick Young ($1.2 million, although he can opt out), Robert Sacre and Kendall Marshall, both on minimum deals. Letting go of Nash gives them the option of a maximum contract and still having room for meaningful signings for depth.
And then there’s the ability and injuries. Nash played only 50 games last season, averaging 12.7 points and 6.7 assists per game. The Lakers can live with that, but that seems to be something Nash can’t do anymore. He has been healthy enough to play 9 games this season. He only now returned and again, a leg injury has taken him out for a few games, and maybe more. His back isn’t getting any better, and he’s averaging 8.2 points while shooting 36.6% from the field. Comparing how much he’s making to how much he’s giving them, Nash just isn’t worth it.
Athletes don’t want to retire. Even if they actually recognize that their great days are behind them (Kobe Bryant, ahem…), it’s hard for them to admit that they’re never going to be that good anymore. The way we view it from the outside is very different to how they perceive the situation, which is also about retiring from something they’ve been doing their whole lives, probably love more than anything else and are pretty much told they can’t do it again after years of dominating and excelling. It’s that difficult walking away, which is why Nash might not do it, although he absolutely should, even if it means giving up so much money.