His presence does not seem as striking as when Steve Nash once threw no-look passes and ran pick-and-roll sequences to near perfection. But Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said on Wednesday that the Lakers’ injured 40-year-old point guard has been “around” in mentoring the team’s younger players.
After the Lakers ruled Nash out for the 2014-15 season because of persistent pain in his back, Kupchak also said he has had “multiple meetings ” with Nash, including breakfast about once a month.
“He will work with some of our players. He may have already started doing that,” Kupchak said. “He’s not going to go out and advertise he’s doing it. But he’s helping the younger players. As the season progresses, he’ll be more engaged.”
Kupchak declined to reveal when Nash started taking on a mentorship role. But before the Lakers’ 115-100 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Jan. 19, Lakers coach Byron Scott still confirmed that Nash hasn’t taken on a formal mentorship role.
Lakers rookie guard Jordan Clarkson noted, however, that he has had informal text message exchanges with Nash and received unspecified tips. Nash also visited the team on Dec. 24 before it departed for its Christmas Day game in Chicago. It’s not clear to what degree Lakers guards Jeremy Lin and Ronnie Price have stayed in touch with Nash.
Kupchak echoed Scott’s constant sentiments in which he has downplayed Nash’s prolonged absence despite the Lakers paying him $9.8 million for the final year of his contract.
“We’re forgetting the career that Steve Nash had and the decision he had to make back in October,” Kupchak said, alluding to Nash’s season-ending injury. “Very emotional and difficult decision. We supported it 100 percent. He didn’t get over it perfectly. But you have to understand where he was and how hard he tried to get back. With our blessing, we told him to take the time you need to get away from the game.”
But Kupchak added that he has stayed “engaged” with Nash.
“I expect him to whether in the next month, two or three or during the offseason to help our younger players,” Kupchak said. “He’s more than willing and he’s already agreed to say he’d love to do it.”
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