Steve Nash to miss entire 2014-15 season with ongoing back injuries

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Steve Nash has had one of the most illustrious NBA careers of the last 20 years, and now, it is likely over. The two-time MVP and future Hall of Famer will miss the entire 2014-15 season as he continues to battle nerve issues in his back, as first reported by Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding:

Nash is expected to be ruled out for the 2014-15 NBA season because of recurring nerve damage in his back, according to league sources.

Nash, 40, had said he expects this 19th NBA season to be his final one. But he has not announced his retirement. Nash has not stated an intention of playing for a team away from Los Angeles and his children, saying in March that he would be done if the Lakers used their stretch provision to cut him for salary-cap savings: “That would be it. I’ll either be back here or I’ll be done.”

Now, Nash might try to dream anew of more rest for a full year and one more shot. But Nash’s body has simply told him that it isn’t up to playing NBA basketball, as much as his words have been telling people that he still loves playing and believes he can contribute if allowed.

The Lakers confirmed the news Thursday evening in a press release:

Due to a recurring back injury, Lakers point guard Steve Nash will be out for the season, it was announced today.  After consultations with Lakers medical staff, both Nash and the organization believe it is best to focus on rest and rehabilitation at this time.

“Being on the court this season has been my top priority and it is disappointing to not be able to do that right now,” said Nash.  “I work very hard to stay healthy and unfortunately my recent setback makes performing at full capacity difficult.  I will continue to support my team during this period of rest, and will focus on my long-term health.”

“As disappointed as we are for ourselves and our fans, we’re even more disappointed for Steve,” said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak.  “We know how hard he’s worked the last two years to try to get his body right for the rigors of the NBA, and how badly he wants to play, but unfortunately he simply hasn’t been able to get there up to this point in time.  Steve has been a consummate professional, and we greatly appreciate his efforts.”

Nash has been plagued by injuries since signing with the Lakers in the summer of 2012. A broken left leg early in his first season with the Lakers led to nerve damage in his leg, which has led to continued nerve damage in his back. Last week, he reinjured his back while he was lifting bags.

This news isn’t much of a surprise for the 40-year-old Nash, who is the oldest player in the NBA. But that doesn’t make it any less of a bummer. He’s already hinted at retirement following the final year of his contract, in which he is owed $9.7 million. Now, there’s virtually no question this is the end.

When Nash joined the Lakers in 2012, he was expected to be part of a superteam that also included Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. But injuries and chemistry issues prevented that team from contending for a title, and Nash played in just 65 total games during his first two seasons in Los Angeles. It’s a sad ending to the career of one of the greatest point guards of all time, the conductor of the mid-2000s “Seven Seconds of Less” teams in Phoenix that are among the greatest teams never to win a championship.

He signed with the Lakers to attempt to win the title that had eluded him his entire career. But due to injuries, Nash’s tenure in the purple and gold is going to go down in history as an afterthought most fans would like to forget, similar to Hakeem Olajuwon’s time with the Raptors or Karl Malone’s single season with the Lakers.

It’s a shame that one of the defining players of his generation is going out this way.

Arizona State leading scoring Remy Martin declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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Arizona State junior Remy Martin has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The six-foot point guard took on more of scoring role in his third season with the Sun Devils than he had in his first two seasons. Martin averaged 19.1 points per game on 43.2% shooting from the field. Martin also dished out 4.1 assists per game, after averaging 5.0 assists as a sophomore.

Arizona State’s leading scoring may just be testing the waters, as he’s expected to go undrafted. NBA scouts have concerns over Martin’s size at the NBA level. One concern is his ability to hold up defensively, as NBA point guards are trending bigger and bigger in recent years.

As a smaller guard, Martin was one of the players who could have benefited from the traditional pre-draft process. With in-person workouts on hold, and potentially cancelled entirely, players have limited opportunities to improve their draft stock. Teams may be drafting off previous in-person scouting and off of tape.

NBA players reportedly to take part in televised NBA 2K tournament Friday

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If we can’t watch NBA players on the court, at least we can watch them control their digital selves and teammates in a live basketball tournament.

ESPN plans to broadcast an NBA 2K tournament with only NBA players at the controllers, a story broken by Chris Haynes at Yahoo Sports. The hope is to have it air Friday, with the players competing from their homes around the country.

The NBA is planning a players-only NBA 2K tournament that will feature the league’s sharpest video gamers and it will be broadcast on ESPN, league sources told Yahoo Sports…

Players competing against their peers in the comfort of their own homes could offer a distraction for fans who are missing the game and a little competition.

Esports are incredibly popular and growing as a spectator sport, both in person and on Twitch and other platforms. With there being a pent-up demand for sports programming, this seems a smart attempt to draw eyeballs. Even people who are non-esports viewers could tune in just to check it out, because it’s that or rewatching Tiger King.

You can bet that if it works, we will see a lot more of it in the future.

(Inside baseball note: I would love to see the emails/texts flying around ESPN about Yahoo breaking a story about what is coming in their network.)

 

Shaquille O’Neal: I had no idea what was happening with Joe Exotic of Tiger King

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On a recent episode of “The Big Podcast with Shaq” former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal said that “he had no idea” what was happening at the zoo run by Joe Exotic. Joe Exotic was recently made famous through the popular Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”.

Footage of O’Neal appeared in the first episode of the show and was shown taking photographs with the animals.

The documentary also showed a cut of O’Neal on TNT saying “Shoutout to Exotic Joe. I got two more tigers.”

On his podcast, O’Neal explained:

“So we go in there, and it’s a beautiful place, and the character that was there was Exotic Joe. We’re there and I dropped some donations for the tigers’ foods and all that. We take pictures with (the) tigers. We went back a couple times. Then we go back another time and we found out that he’s involved with all the stuff, and then, actually, I stopped going.”

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, was sentenced to 22 years in prison after being found guilty of 19 different charges. Those charges included murder-for-hire plot, illegally selling endangered species and other animal-related offenses.

O’Neal clarified that he never bought any animals, but often donates to charities that help animals. He also made it clear that he’s not friends with Joe Exotic, nor anyone involved in the trade of endangered species.

“I don’t harm tigers,” O’Neal said. “I love tigers. I love white tigers. Do I put donations to these zoos to help these tigers out? I do it all the time. Do I own tigers personally at my house? No. But I love tigers. Listen, people are going to make their own opinions, but, again, I was just a visitor. I met this guy — not my friend. Don’t know him. Never had any business dealings with him, and I had no idea any of that stuff was going on.”

Report: Brooklyn Nets looking to hire a blue-chip head coach

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When the Brooklyn Nets and Kenny Atkinson parted ways in early-March, the team installed Jacque Vaughn as the interim head coach.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that’s a short-term appointment. On his podcast “Brian Windhorst and The Hoop Collective”, the reporter said the Nets are looking to hire a coach with a track record of NBA success.

“One of the things that has been expressed sort of the grapevine, that’s the way I’m going to say it to protect myself from the aggregators, is that Durant and Irving would like a blue-chip coach. I don’t know what this says about the way they thought about Atkinson, but they want a big-name coach.”

Names linked to the Brooklyn opening are Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson, and both Jeff and Stan Van Gundy.

Atkinson leaving Brooklyn was a surprise, considering he had led the Nets back to the playoffs in 2019. That success came after a three-year rebuild. That process was kicked off when general manager Sean Marks hired Atkinson to lead the on-court development. Under Marks and Atkinson, the Nets developed several players who had been given up on by other teams.

Brooklyn was 28-34 when Atkinson was let go. The Nets had gone 2-0 under Vaughn before the NBA suspended play in mid-March.