You don’t get to be an NBA player, a professional athlete at an elite level, without some ego.
Steve Nash has one. Certainly not one that is out of control, but he knows his NBA career is winding down and he wants to leave the game on his terms. He wants to contribute.
In this second part of a Grantland documentary (part one is here) Nash talks about his road back from injury this season and how when he learned about the stretch provision of the new CBA — the Lakers could waive him this summer and rather than have his $9.7 million on the books next season the cap hit would be stretched out over three seasons, a third at a time). Nash talks about how learning that and knowing the Lakers were (and are) considering it pushed him in his recovery to take some chances to get back on the court.
There were some Lakers’ fans who selfishly hoped Nash wouldn’t return leading to a medical retirement, saving the Lakers any of Nash’s money on the cap next year. Was Nash thinking about himself and his desire to get back on the court? Yes. As he should have been. He doesn’t owe the Lakers franchise anything, they owe him because they agreed to the contract and even traded a first round pick next year to get him. Nash was never the most athletic guy in the league, he made himself into an MVP because of a serious drive — he doesn’t wear it on his sleeve like Kobe Bryant does, but Nash is as motivated and disciplined a player as you will see. The same fans that applaud what Kobe has done and continues to do to get back on the court should recognize that same drive in Nash and appreciate it.
The current feeling around Staples is the Lakers may not use the stretch provision on Nash — they are rebuilding, better to bite the bullet and just have him on the books for one season (likely another down season, depending on off-season moves) rather than keeping him on the books for years. The Lakers real target is the summer of 2015, this way Nash is off the books by then (and is a potential trade chip).