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Lakers trainer hints Steve Nash should be on minutes cap next season

Jun 14, 2013, 11:00 PM EDT

Steve Nash AP

Well, it seemed obvious to the rest of us, too.

Steve Nash, at age 39 with a chronically bad back and coming off a broken fibula, didn’t exactly get to take it easy this season. His minutes per game increased to 32.5, up from the season before in Phoenix. When the Lakers were making their push to get in the playoffs there were plenty of 35 to 37 minute nights. Mike D’Antoni looked at his bench and played Kobe Bryant, Nash and his other key guys heavy minutes.

Lakers trainer Gary Vitti sat down and talked to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell in a fascinating piece where they talk about a lot of things, including the minutes impact on Kobe’s Achilles injury.

Vitti hints at the idea Nash should be on a minutes limit next year.

“I think he’s going to come back in great shape, and then it’s all about how he’s used. You don’t want to beat him up in practice. Save it for the game, figure out the appropriate minutes that put him in a successful situation. The example I use is Robert Horry, where we played him a lot of minutes, and it was difficult for him to recover and be productive at his age. But he goes to San Antonio, plays 18 minutes a game, and the guy was an unbelievable force off the bench for them. I think if we figure out how best to use Steve, he can be the same way.”

Back in 2003 the Lakers played a 32-year-old Horry 29.3 minutes a game, and he did struggle shooting 38.7 percent overall, 28.8 percent from three and with a PER of 12.4. The next season the Spurs cut him back to 15.9 minutes a game off the bench, he shoots 40.5 percent overall and 38 percent from three with a PER up to 14.5.

There’s a lot more to work out for the Lakers. They had Nash working off the ball more with Kobe last season, do things stay that way or will Nash have the ball in his hands more? Who will be the backups at the guard spots? When does Kobe return, and how does his absence for part of the season impact what they do on offense? (Oh, and that Dwight thing needs to be worked out, too.)

On top of all that, D’Antoni has to find a way to keep the minutes under control for his best players. Have fun with that.

  1. adoombray - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    There’s been a million stories done about how the Phoenix training staff is the best in the league. (and a million hints that they use PED’s too, but, nobody talks about PED’s in basketball, because, who could possibly benefit from healing quicker in an 82 game season… oh, right). What amazes me is nobody saw this coming. a 39 year old player getting hurt and being limited in effectiveness? is it just because everyone loves Steve Nash and hopes he gets a ring?

    Fredo Buss made a horrible decision hiring a coach for a PG who will never be the same and will be lucky to play 50 games.

  2. ambella - Jun 15, 2013 at 12:23 AM

    Well said. I feel for Kobe, he deserves better. But the Fredo part is right on the money.

  3. 13arod - Jun 15, 2013 at 12:27 AM

    trade him back to suns please lakers

    • adoombray - Jun 15, 2013 at 3:17 AM

      Nah, Suns fans like me are good on that. I was at both of the Suns home games vs. the Lakers last year (both of which were wins, 2 of the 25 games the Suns won last year) and he was boo’d mercilessly. He could have picked any other team except for maybe San Antonio and we all would have embraced it, but he decided to go to LA. He will be lucky to get a used car lot endorsement in this town.

      Icing on the cake is that the Lakers desperately need the two firsts (2013/2015) and the seconds (2013 and 2014) that Phoenix got for him to develop talent for the future, which was something Nash personally pleaded to Robert Sarver to do for him, allegedly so he could stay closer to his kids, which is a nice story, but proven irrelevent when he sued to block his ex-wife and kids from moving to LA fearing she might be able to negotiate a few extra grand in child support. Lakers have no draft this year so Nash could make more money, which probably costs them Gasol or at the very least Ron Artest this offseason to avoid luxury tax.

  4. davidly - Jun 15, 2013 at 3:59 AM

    The biggest problem the Lakers had last season was the result of a horrid management of expectations by Lakers management and press, who’s collective commentary might be analogous to a Heat-like pep rally/celebration when they got Howard.

    I mean, seriously. They were calling them an immediate contender, pretending as if they hadn’t just pawned their future for a big name elite point guard with the overwhelmingly counterbalancing downside that he not only couldn’t play major minutes, but was minutes from retirement.

    So in spite of the fact that they managed to get the franchise of the future, it was clearly not going to be last season considering his back surgery.

    It’s just ironic that it was the commish who vetoed the deal the more or less led to this fiasco.

    • nativetexan2012 - Jun 17, 2013 at 12:45 AM

      Nash was an All-Star last season. How is that minutes from retirement? Yes, the expectations were overblown, but you don’t really know what could have been accomplished without the devastating parade of injuries that started at the beginning of the season and continued right into the playoffs. And Nash can play 32-35 minutes a game and more if he has to. He played 41 minutes in the first game back from the broken leg. If they can’t win with him playing that many minutes, they can’t win. Their problem, apart from the injuries, was the anemic bench. That was the real Achilles heel (no pun intended).

  5. BigBeachBall - Jun 15, 2013 at 6:16 AM

    Vitti and dantoni should switch seats…

  6. omniusprime - Jun 15, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    Ancient Trash Nash should retire, was nothing but a total waste of money last season and he’ll be an even worse waste this upcoming season. If Kobe really wants two cracks at winning another ring then he’d better scream at Clueless Jimmy and Kupcake to get rid of Trash Nash and bring in a great young point guard like Stephen Curry or Kyrie Irving.

    Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Trash Nash and Steve Flake!!!

  7. fnc111 - Jun 15, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Do you have an unoriginal nickname for everyone?

  8. ezwriter69 - Jun 15, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    Maybe he should just stop taking money when he can’t play anymore… kind of stealing, in a way. When you have to back up to the pay window, time to quit.

  9. remmsterr - Jun 15, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    The Lakers are a mess.

  10. paulhargis53 - Jun 15, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    fnc : Pay no mind to that fool prime. He’s a 1 trick pony, virtually every single post of his is the same as that one.

    He is beyond annoying and the 2nd biggest tool laker fan on this site.

  11. felisberto - Jun 16, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    Nash is wortless of PG at this point,the Lakers will go nowhere with him.It’s better to trade him for better PG’s like Tony Parker,Lillard or Chris Paul.

    • nativetexan2012 - Jun 17, 2013 at 12:52 AM

      Seriously? Why don’t they go for Lebron and Kevin Durant while they’re at it. If the Lakers don’t go anywhere it won’t be because of Steve Nash. He was injured and missed 32 games. No one in the league thinks he’s “worthless.” Injuries happen. He was healthy last year. No reason to believe he’s going to break his leg again.

  12. nativetexan2012 - Jun 17, 2013 at 12:38 AM

    Not Vitti’s call how many minutes Nash will play. Steve Nash is not Robert Horry, and Nash played about the same amount of minutes this season as he did last season in Phoenix. I was watching those games, and he played around 36 minutes a game. There’s no reason to believe he can’t do the same next season if he comes back 100%. Vitti expects that, and so does Steve Nash. Nash is not a role player like Horry, and he’s not going to be playing 18 minutes a game. He was brought to LA to run the offense, not sit on the bench. He’s not the typical 39/40 year old. He had a broken leg. Hopefully that will not happen next season. Nash is not finished. He’s been written off his whole career by people who should know better (Mark Cuban). Looking for him to have a great season. No one shoots like he does if their legs are gone. He’s still got plenty of game left.

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