Lakers Officially Decline to “Stretch” Steve Nash
Now we know that Steve Nash will be playing for the Lakers next season.
As the deadline to exercise the “stretch provision” on Steve Nash’s contract passed, the Los Angeles Lakers have officially kept the former two time NBA MVP for the 2014-15 season.
Much talk has been on Nash since June as the Lakers were reportedly keen on using the “stretch provision” on the final year of his contract to free up cap space. Under this provision, the Lakers would have been allowed to divide Nash’s remaining $9.7M contract over a period of three years, thus giving them around $6.5M in cap space for the 2014 free agency, although Nash’s guaranteed money is still on their books.
Nash is in the final year of a $27.9M sign and trade deal which he agreed to back in 2012. And after two seasons where he missed 99 out of 164 regular season games, the Lakers had the option to waive him for a sizeable addition to their salary cap space this past summer. But as the deadline to use the provision passed over the weekend, Nash will now have the opportunity to go out his way.
No Hollywood ending
The Lakers brought Nash to the team in 2012, the same year they got Dwight Howard in what looked like a solid move to get back in title contention. With Kobe Bryant beside Nash, the Lakers seemed like they had the perfect backcourt of Kobe the ultimate scorer and Nash the ultimate passer. But injuries and poor chemistry led to Howard’s exit the following year, while Nash and Kobe got hit with injuries that have pushed the fabled purple and blue to the bottom of the NBA’s standings. The Lakers finished last season with a 27-55 record, their worst since 1959-60 when they went 25-50. The Lakers also missed the playoffs for the first time since 2004-05.
One last hurrah
At 40, Nash will be the oldest player in the NBA next season. And while now healthy, it remains to be seen what role he will play with the newly assembled Lakers. The team got Rockets’ point guard Jeremy Lin over the summer and the younger Asian sensation is expected to play the bulk of the minutes at the point guard spot.
Nash has averaged just 11.4 points , 6.4 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 65 games as a Laker. And while he may no longer be statistically the MVP he was during his prime, Nash’s leadership and playmaking skills will be the key to Kobe Bryant’s “win now” last two years.
The Lakers also picked up Carlos Boozer from the Bulls, re-signed Nick Young, Jordan Hill and Ryan Kelly, and drafted power forward Julius Randle during the offseason. However, they lost out in their bid to acquire either Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James in the free agency. They also lost center Pau Gasol when the Spaniard signed with the Chicago Bulls as a free agent. With new Head Coach Byron Scott calling the shots now, the pre-historic backcourt duo of Bryant and Nash are looking for one last hurrah together.
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