Steve Nash played just 15 games last season and none this season due to injuries.
That has enraged many Lakers fans – especially when Nash golfs – who see him as stealing his $9,701,000 salary. They blame him for not retiring last summer and saving the Lakers money.
Perhaps their scorn is misdirected.
Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:
The only reason Nash isn’t retired from basketball already, having put it all behind him, is so he could try to help the Lakers.
Nash was ready to call it a career before the season. After deep soul-searching to accept his body does not belong in an official NBA uniform any longer, he wasn’t just out for the season.
He was, and is, done.
The Lakers asked Nash not to announce anything, according to team sources. They hoped they could trade Nash’s $9.7 million salary, not only an expiring contract but also a giant coupon for another club to take and immediately save real dollars via insurance, to get a building block for the Lakers’ future.
I believe the Lakers tried to trade Nash’s contract, including for Rajon Rondo. That was the best way to handle this predicament.
I’m unconvinced Nash actually planned to retire.
Last spring, when his season was already over, Nash famously declared: “I’m not going to retire because I want the money.”
He even doubled down, saying he wouldn’t reconsider even if he regressed physically.
Nash, in a Q&A with Brian Kamenetzky of Land O’Lakers:
Q: Regarding the “money” comment to Grantland, if there a point where you feel like, physically, in the summer if things don’t go well, where you would feel like you just couldn’t uphold your end of the bargain? Would that change your perspective?
Nash: Frankly, I don’t think so. We fight in the collective bargaining to keep guaranteed contracts. I broke my leg playing for this team, and my body’s never been the same. Frankly, I would be lying if I didn’t say I feel that’s my end of the deal. We sign these contracts before (we know what what happens). Maybe it would be a better business if we got paid for what you actually accomplish, but that’s not the business we’re in, and frankly I would have made a lot more money if I got paid afterwards instead of before throughout my career, so it’s just a part of it. It’s a business.
And it sounds crass to sit here and talk about money, knowing that I make more money than 99 percent of the people in the world, but it’s the new normal. That’s my life, that’s my reality, and if I’m honest it’s a part of what you expect when you play in this business. I think it would also be false modesty if I apologized for that, and dishonest. That’s a key part of this business and industry. It gets convoluted because I love to play the game, and if I didn’t have any options, and the Lakers said you can come and play for us but by the way we can’t pay you, and nobody else was offering me a deal, I would still play. And I would play for free. But not when you have three teams offering you money. (Note: He’s referencing the period before eventually agreeing to terms with the Lakers.) So it gets complicated, and sometimes it looks really ugly to talk about money.
This is Nash, in no uncertain terms, expressing his desire to finish his contract regardless of injury setbacks.
How do you square that with Ding’s report? I suppose Nash could have had a change of heart after specially saying he wouldn’t have a change of heart.
I doubt it, though. I think it’s much more likely someone – Nash and/or the Lakers – is trying to preserve his legacy by reducing fan outrage.