As he has labored tirelessly through back pain for the last two years, Steve Nash all but confirmed the obvious when looking ahead on what the last year of his $9.7 million with the Lakers will mean for his NBA future.
“I think this is my last season,” said the 40-year-old Nash in a video posted by Sport TV. But I still love to play, practice and work on my game. I’m going to spend hopefully many many years living this life without basketball. It’ll be nice to play one more year.”
The Lakers have not wavered on their stance that they would keep Nash for next season. Although the Lakers could waive him through the so-called stretch provision, that would require them to pay out his salary through three years instead of one. Doing that could compromise the Lakers’ hopes to pursue high-level free agents both in 2015 (Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo) and 2016 (Kevin Durant).
The Lakers hardly have much confidence Nash can fully heal from a back injury that kept him sidelined for all but 15 games last season. That partly explains why the Lakers acquired Jeremy Lin in a trade from Houston and paid $1.8 million to Washington for their 46th draft pick to select Jordan Clarkson. But Nash could prove an integral piece, playing a mentor role even if it involves playing as a reserve in limited minutes.
Nash’s fledgling health marks one of the many reasons why the Lakers are expected to have a lengthy rebuilding process with another likely missed playoff appearance.
“They’re waiting to see which free agents are available next summer and the summer after, to be honest.” Nash said of the Lakers’ rebuilding strategy. It’s a cyclical league and sometimes you have to go down to come back up. Right now, the Lakers are down and it takes time. I don’t know if we’re going to have a chance this year or not. But obviously in the future, they’ll be back where they have been many times.”
(Photo credit: Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)
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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org