Until his body tells him otherwise, Steve Nash has no plans but to play when the Lakers play Tuesday against the Utah Jazz. He also has no plans to retire, either.
Yet, a New York Daily News report indicated Nash told friends that he plans to retire after the 2013-14 season despite being under contract next year. Is there any truth to that?
“Not from me,” Nash said. “I work as hard as I can everyday to perform and keep going until I’m not playing anymore. But right now, I have no intentions to stop playing.”
Nash left midway through the third quarter of the Lakers’ 92-86 loss Sunday to the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center after feeling nerve irritation in his fractured left leg after colliding with Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich. That’s notable because Nash fractured his left leg last season, which soon created nerve damage that hurt his leg, back and hamstrings. He had also just appeared in three games since rehabbing the persistent nerve damage in his back for the past three months.
Nash described his back as “still irritated” and believed he will have to deal with nerve damage “for the rest of my life.” But he felt fine enough to participate in portions of Monday’s practice that involved team strategy and shooting drills. He also downplayed the potential benefit of sitting out the Lakers’ next two games against Utah (tonight) and Oklahoma City (Thursday), which would allow him a full week of recovery over NBA All-Star weekend.
“There’s no reason to sit out if it feels better tomorrow and I feel pretty good,” Nash said. “But if it is an issue, then I’m definitely not going to jeopardize any prolonged absences again.”
Nash has played only nine games this season, leaving it possible that the Lakers could benefit financially from his absence. If an NBA-appointed official determines Nash couldn’t play another game, the Lakers wouldn’t have the final year of Nash’s contract counted against their cap.
But neither Nash nor the Lakers are thinking that way.
“It’s too early for him,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said about Nash’s possible retirement. “He’ll have to decide that. He’ll feel it in his heart and his head. I’m sure he’s getting good advice. Right now w’ere trying to get to the next game and play well.”
After all, Nash showed some promising signs in his three games since his return. That included posting a season-high 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting and five assists in the Lakers’ win Friday in Philadelphia, which marked his 40th birthday.
“It’s frustrating more than anything,” Nash said. “It’s something I hope we can get under control quickly here. It doesn’t feel like something too serious. I had so many issues with the nerve, I’m not going to take it for granted.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org