Steve Nash will soon find out to what degree his ailing back could keep him either sidelined or limited. He’s scheduled to meet with back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins around 2 p.m. PST today after the Lakers point guard missed the entire second half of the Lakers’ loss Sunday to the Minnesota Timberwolves because of flaring back issues stemmed from the nerves that have bothered his surgically repaired left leg.
But Nash didn’t need an official diagnosis before reporting this grim evaluation on his 39-year-old body.
“It’s slowly getting worse and worse,” Nash said.
He said those words so matter-of-factly Monday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. But that’s a chilling assessment for a player the Lakers had hoped could provide a compelling sequel to Mike D’Antoni’s offense that he ran in Phoenix that earned him two NBA league MVPs.
But a year after missing a combined 32 games because of a fractured left leg and persisting back and hamstring issues, Nash has experienced more ailments. His back and hamstring problems have emerged, while also nursing a sore left ankle, a stiff neck and pain in his quads. Add it all up, and Nash has only averaged 6.7 points on 26.1 percent shooting in 22.5 minutes while also missing two games on the second night of back-to-back contests.
“I don’t know if it makes it any more difficult because it’s tough for anybody. But you get close to all your players,” D’Antoni said. “He’s a special player and you hate to see him struggle.”
The NBA’s fourth all-time leader in assists seems a sure lock for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. But Nash, in his 18th season, no longer assures an offense running smoothly.
“That’s one of the reasons I’ve come out a few times this year,” Nash said. “I’m not able to get it done and produce. It’s not worth being out there.”
Nash will have more clarity on how he will have to heal his back following his doctor’s appointment, of course. Last year, he received a handful of epidural shots in his back, though that didn’t significantly heal the pain. Nash also conceded he might need “a little bit of rest,” while continuously rehabbing his body.
Yet, Nash spent the entire offseason doing the same thing. But the returns on his investment hasn’t yielded positive results.
“I’m just staying positive and hungry,” Nash said. “It’s hard everyday to keep fighting uphill. I also have to weigh it against the fact that I still really love playing and I want to be a part of this group. That makes it worthwhile, but there are days when it’s a big challenge.”