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Health of Steve Nash beginning to be a real concern for Lakers

Oct 24, 2013, 11:04 PM EDT

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

You can say whatever you want about last season’s ill-fated version of the star-studded Lakers, but the reality is that injuries completely decimated an otherwise talented team that would have, at the very least, contended to make a run deep into the postseason.

This year’s squad has a much slimmer margin for error, given the uncertain status of Kobe Bryant to start the season and the lower level of overall talent present on the roster.

The hope was that Steve Nash would enter the season at 100 percent, and would give the Lakers a much stronger glimpse of the two-time MVP than he was able to a season ago while dealing with various injuries. But that hasn’t been the case just yet, and Nash’s status as the regular season approaches is still significantly far from encouraging.

From Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:

With the regular season set to tip off in less than a week, some of Nash’s teammates are starting to wonder when, or even if, they’ll have the full services of the surefire Hall of Famer in their lineup this season.

“Steve hasn’t been able to complete a practice yet, so that’s the bigger issue,” Gasol said of Nash, who is averaging just 3.5 points and 3.5 assists in 16.7 minutes per game in the preseason, sitting out one of the exhibition games altogether. “I’m a little bit concerned because I want him to be healthy, I want him to play. I want him to play and I want him to do well. I want him to help us. I hope that he can.” …

“It’s a different stage in my career,” Nash said. “I used to be able to get out, run up and down and feel like a world-beater every day, and now I have to try and get myself into some sort of form to try and execute for my team. It’s a different frame of mind. It’s a different challenge, but like I said, I’m up for it. I’m positive about it, I feel optimistic, I’m inspired by my teammates and I’m going to keep pushing through.”

None of those comments scream positivity for Nash and his ability to contribute in the early part of the season.

No one is questioning Nash’s work ethic or desire to get back on the court in a full capacity at age 39, but the fact that it’s a constant struggle while we’re still in the preseason doesn’t bode well for his 82-game campaign that’s set to begin next week.

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Once again, it appears the Lakers season will come down to health more than anything else. If Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Nash were all at 100 percent for the bulk of the season, you’d have to like their chances of securing one of the final two playoff spots in the West. But with Bryant’s return date and ability being such an unknown, along with Nash’s seemingly constant issues, it’s easy to understand why the oddsmakers have L.A. finishing as no better than a lottery team this season.

  1. detectivejimmymcnulty - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    You can say whatever you want about last season’s ill-fated version of the star-studded Lakers, but the reality is that injuries completely decimated an otherwise talented team that would have, at the very least, contended to make a run deep into the postseason.

    I disagree. The pieces didn’t fit. Dwight didn’t want to be there and Pau was, uh, moody all year. Kobe’s style of play doesn’t allow a traditional PG to thrive next to him. No, I’m not knocking Kobe, MJ didn’t allow traditional PGs to thrive either.

    • redbaronx - Oct 25, 2013 at 12:25 AM

      @detectivejimmymcnulty – I know you’re probably a Laker fan, but Laker nation is in for a very rude awakening! Kobe would be the last one to make excuses, and the reality is that this is the team that is playing. Doesn’t matter if Dwight fit or didn’t fit. It doesn’t matter if Steve Nash was or wasn’t healthy.

      The brain trust that is Lakers management needs to make sure that they’re in a position to contend. There were a lot of people that thought a 37 year old (now 38) Steve Nash with a bad back was a bad bet. Even when “healthy” or Steve’s version of healthy since he’s always had the back problem.

      There were other warning signs. MWP was in decline BEFORE last season started. Pau wasn’t just moody. He’s just not the force he was on offense, and he was a slightly above average big on defense. Before the Lakers got Howard, everyone knew this was a tough sell. Howard didn’t like Kobe’s attitude towards him before during previous Lakers feelers towards acquiring him from the Magic. Kobe was a little condescending with the whole “I’ll teach you how to become a champion” message.

      Also, what you said about MJ and Kobe not allowing traditional PG’s to thrive is just off. Offenses are better with size at the 1 spot with interchangeable parts. Ron Harper, Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc proved how effective it was because the Bulls were a matchup nightmare. It wasn’t just Jordan that gave coaches headaches! It’s hard defending that much size and the length they had was disruptive on defense. The Miami Heat cause a lot of similar problems with LeBron and Bosh capable of switching in multiple offensive roles between the 1 through 5 spots.

      The Lakers were a lesser version of that with Kobe, but it’s the same principles. And Derek Fisher was a tradional PG. He set up the offense, penetrated, and spotted up or 3’s. He just did it in the framework of the triangle.

    • antistratfordian - Oct 25, 2013 at 4:46 AM

      Nope. They were going nowhere – injuries or no injuries. Their problem wasn’t health, it was chemistry and guidance.

      • antistratfordian - Oct 25, 2013 at 4:47 AM

        Oh, you were quoting the article…. sorry, detective jimmy. Try using quotes next time (or maybe I should try reading the article next time).

    • skids003 - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:27 AM

      Well said. They were lucky to make the playoffs, and healthy or not, they weren’t going deep. They won’t do much this year either.

    • casualcommenter - Oct 25, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      Very well put. Look at what the most successful recent Big 3 formations had to do.

      Boston’s Big 3 – Pierce had to sacrifice shot attempts to two new stars. KG had to become more of a defensive specialist as the third option on offense. Ray Allen had to sacrifice ball-handling as he became more of a spot-up shooter.

      Miami’s Big 3 – LeBron had to sacrifice shot attempts. Bosh had to play out of position as a center and as the third option on offense. Wade had to sacrifice “ownership” of the Heat as his team, as well as shot attempts AND ballhandling.

      Lakers – Kobe was very reluctant to sacrifice shot attempts until late in the season, when injuries to Steve Nash and Steve Blake FORCED him to be a facilitator. Pau was reluctant to sacrifice low-post touches. Dwight was reluctant to become a defensive specialist. Nash actually did okay playing off the ball but obviously his value is low if he isn’t running the offense.

      The players were unwilling/unable to change to improve their fit with each other.

  2. abchome - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:52 PM

    The Lakers are really slow if they just begin to concern.

  3. sportsfan18 - Oct 25, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    Father time is undefeated…

    Nash has had an outstanding career. He’s better than most people realize even with all the attention he’s received throughout his career.

    Nash is currently in 13th place ALL TIME on the true shooting percentage leader list for the NBA.

    People talk about the 50/40/90 shooting seasons as being amazing and they are. Nash has the most all time with 4 seasons and he just missed having another last season.

    Only 6 players have ever had a season of 50% from the field, 40% from 3 pt range and 90% from the free throw line. Besides Nash with four of these seasons, Larry Bird is the only other one with more than one season and he had 2 such seasons.

    The other 4 players with one season each are Kevin Durant, Mark Price, Reggie Miller and Dirk Nowitski.

    Of course Nash is a great passer and he is currently in 4th place all time for the most career assists in the NBA.

    His health will keep him to 3rd place as he’s just 85 assists behind 3rd place but he’s too far behind to catch the 2nd of 1st place men.

    When Nash shoots, there’s a great chance it’s going in and that’s what the game is about. And when he doesn’t shoot, there’s a great chance in his career that he made a nice pass leading to a good shot attempt for one of his teammates…

    No, he isn’t a Magic, Bird or MJ at all, but the man was even better than most realize…

  4. fotydaze - Oct 25, 2013 at 3:17 AM

    You mean signing a 40 year old point guard to a three year 40 million dollar deal wasn’t a good idea?

    • bougin89 - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:51 AM

      He’s got a 15% trade kicker too.

  5. davidly - Oct 25, 2013 at 3:34 AM

    I agree with all of detectivejimmymcnulty’s points, the key of which was Bryant’s talents–at least as they have heretofore been developed–are not conducive to allowing a traditional point guard to thrive.

    Moreover, the idea that last year’s squad would have made a deep playoff run if they’d only been healthy doesn’t even work on paper: a team has to play together and show success before any such predictions are even remotely realistic, especially when they are made up of older athletes in basketball years.

    You may as well say, “If Wilt Chamberlain were still alive, they’d’ve won it all.”

    • macka4 - Oct 26, 2013 at 4:45 AM

      Or if Shaq or Kareem were still playing.

      • davidly - Oct 26, 2013 at 5:34 AM

        Your analogy is much better actually; I just couldn’t help myself from cranking it up a notch.

  6. antistratfordian - Oct 25, 2013 at 4:45 AM

    No way. He’s only 39 years old – how could this be happening!?

  7. qadrir - Oct 25, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    Suck for LAKERS but they deserve this. Way to go be dead last for next several seasons.

  8. wtfruthinkn - Oct 25, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    At some point, look for Nash to be traded for a crappy contract in return. One destination might be Houston – that’s right – for Jeremy Lin who won’t even beat out Patrick Beverly for a starting job. Nash can go back up Beverly, give them some quality minutes off the bench, and Lin (and his crappy contract) can try to revive his career in Mike D’Antoni’s offense just like he did in NY.

  9. raycharlesj - Oct 25, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    Is Steve Nash the Lakers older version of Derrick Rose or something?? Since he has gotten to LA they have been waiting for him to lead them to the promised land, if the follow him the only place he can lead them to is an assisted living facility!!!! It’s over Man Sorry to say, The Lakers brain trust and some of their fans have been waiting on 39 year old Steve Nash to lead them to victory, longer then the Bulls and their fans have been waiting on Derrick Rose to come back from his injury.

  10. onlyavoice - Oct 26, 2013 at 7:33 AM

    A Guy Who Only Had A Few Good Years In Phoenix, Can’t Play With Bigs, Can’t Play 1/2 Court & Plays No Defense, They Label Him As A Hall Of Famer.
    NOT.
    The Hall Seems To Be Getting Into Names Instead Of Careers.
    Nash Was Dazzling For A Few Years, But Not A Hall Candidate.

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