What words come to mind when you think of the Los Angeles Lakers this season? I would have to include: sad, resourceful, injured, old, or any of the like. They’re hard to watch, but the hardest part is that you have no idea which team you’re going to see. Not one Laker has played in every single game this season, so I guess we could add “changing” to that running list.
One positive change that the Lakers did see last week was the return of Steve Nash, who has only been a part of nine games this season. Since his return, he’s played in three games for an average of 25 minutes, scoring eleven and dishing five apiece, but if you have to ask, the answer is no, they still aren’t winning, but it does give them some hope. Most would expect the word “hope” to come with some wins, but from their perspective, it may not have to.
It isn’t healthy for a team to continually shuffle players in and out. When members of a squad are repeatedly being shipped in and out of the locker room from the d-league or free agency pool, there’s no knowing who will be starting the following day. Fans stop coming because apart from their team not winning, they aren’t even able to watch a consistent five take the floor. The players stop believing in their coach because it can be perceived of a lack of trust in his part, and that can single-handedly destroy a franchise.
Take a look at the Knicks for example. Today’s headline story on Bleacher Report reads: “NY Knicks Must Find New Coach That Carmelo Anthony Likes and Respects.” When more importance is placed on a team getting along with their coach than their success on the court, you have a problem. It even happened to the Lakers in the past when Shaq and Kobe had their outs. Phil Jackson’s name seemed to always be in the news regarding his coaching decisions and relationship with Kobe Bryant.
But back to the return of Nash. If he can stay on the court, the Lakers know they have a solid man up front. Yes, he turned 40 the night of their win over the Sixers, but he’s not someone that allows age and speed to affect his play. When he left the Mavericks, people questioned his future with the Suns, in which he responded happily by winning two MVP’s and three All-NBA First Teams. Statwise, Steve Nash has been a measurably better player in the second half of his career, which has only been dwindled by injuries.
If he could overcome these injuries he’s suffered in the last year, I truly believe that he could have one, if not two, years left in the league. This may sound like a lot for a 40-year-old man, but he’s crafty enough to continue playing. His game is known for nifty passes that require him to be able to thread the needle, not beat out his defender. No one’s ever considered him to be speedy, so there’s no reason for him to have to be now.
With eleven days left before the NBA trade deadline, the Lakers have a lot of decisions to make. Should they keep Pau? When will Kobe return? Is this the team that LA wants to build around for the future? Is it time to just tank?
But one question they shouldn’t ask is, “Do we want a healthy Steve Nash at point?” He may be old, but he still has the abilities to be a top-tier point guard for any team in this league. Dropping him would only hurt the Lakers, because his smarts and basketball prowess is exactly what LA needs while they’re gasping for air.