Oklahoma State’s Nash ready to shine

Oklahoma State forward Le’Bryan Nash ready for go-to role

      
 

 

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Oklahoma State’s Nash ready to shine (Yahoo Sports)

Oklahoma State post Michael Cobbins, left, and wing Le'Bryan Nash, right, answer questions during an NCAA college basketball media day in Stillwater, Okla., Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Le’Bryan Nash shared the spotlight with Marcus Smart and Markel Brown the past two years at Oklahoma State.


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Oklahoma State Nash ready to shine (Yahoo Sports)

Oklahoma State post Michael Cobbins, left, and wing Le'Bryan Nash, right, answer questions during an NCAA college basketball media day in Stillwater, Okla., Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Le’Bryan Nash shared the spotlight with Marcus Smart and Markel Brown the past two years at Oklahoma State.


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Nash hurt his back doing what?

We’ve all been there before. You’re carrying some heavy bags up the stairs when you feel a little tweak in your back, at which point you retire to the couch for the rest of the night. It’s not the most embarrassing thing in the world, unless of course you’re a professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers. That’s apparently what happened to Lakers guard Steve Nash on Wednesday, as the 40-year-old was forced to miss the team’s practice due an unfortunate domestic injury. “Steve, today, kind of hurt his back,” Lakers coach Byron Scott told reporters, via the Los Angeles Times. “He had a little bit of a setback, just kind of carrying some bags or something. He (felt) a twinge in his back.” Who knows what “carrying some bags or something” entails, but the fact of the matter is that Nash isn’t exactly a spring chicken these days. The NBA’s oldest player appeared in just 15 games last season and has struggled to stay healthy during the preseason, raising concerns about jus

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Lakers’ Steve Nash injures back carrying bags (Yahoo Sports)

ONTARIO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball during the game against the Golden State Warriors on October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash has missed his third straight practice after injuring his back while carrying bags.


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Steve Nash Injury: Updates on Lakers Star After Hurting Back Carrying Bags

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash just can’t seem to catch a break at this late stage of his career.

The 40-year-old veteran and two-time NBA MVP injured his back Wednesday while carrying bags. Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times reported what Lakers coach Byron Scott had to say on the matter.

“Steve, today, kind of hurt his back,” Scott said. “He had a little bit of a setback, just kind of carrying some bags or something. He [felt] a twinge in his back.”    

Tim Bontemps of the New York Post analyzed Nash’s injury:

The 2014-15 season marks the final year on Nash’s contract, which may very well turn out to be his last in the Association. He’s had an ailing back and other leg injuries since taking his talents to L.A.

Nash and fellow aging superstar Kobe Bryant are going to be counted on heavily for the Lakers this season. If Nash is unable to ultimately play on a consistent basis, the pressure will fall on newcomer Jeremy Lin to fill in at point guard.

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Jeremy Lin Deserves to Start for Los Angeles Lakers over Steve Nash

Jeremy Lin was acquired by the Los Angeles Lakers as an insurance policy for starting point guard Steve Nash, but it has become clear through training camp and in the preseason that Lin deserves the starting job.

According to head coach Byron Scott, via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, the team is already considering starting Lin over Nash:

Lin has been dealing with an ankle injury of his own, but the 26-year-old point guard has missed just 11 games over the last two seasons. After averaging 12.5 points, 4.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game last year alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard on the Houston Rockets, the Lakers acquired Lin to add depth behind Nash and alleviate some of the pressure on the veteran.

Lin struggled in his first preseason game against Denver, missing all six of his field goals and finishing the day with just one point. He bounced back in his second game, though, and racking up 14 points, four assists and four rebounds.

On the other hand, Nash has already been dealing with back and hamstring injuries, according to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, and pulled himself from Sunday’s loss to Golden State:

The problem for the Lakers is reliability. The team needs a consistent point guard who can lead the offense, and Lin is the better option at this point of their respective careers. Nash is 40 years old and played in only 15 games last season while dealing with injuries. After playing in only 50 games the previous year, Nash would be better suited for sporadic minutes off the bench.

Sitting a star like Nash won’t be easy, but Scott told Bresnahan and Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times about how he thinks the veteran will take the news if asked to be a role player: “I have no doubt in my mind that if I went to Steve and said tomorrow, ‘You know what, I’m going to start Jeremy and the games that you’re available, we’re going bring you off the bench,’ he’s such a professional that I don’t think it would be a problem whatsoever.”

The decision on which player is named starter should be based on who gives the team the best chance to win, not who had the most illustrious career. Los Angeles is trying to return to championship contention as soon as possible. As great as Nash was in the past, he is too injury-prone to carry the offensive unit throughout the 2014-15 campaign.

With players like Kobe Bryant, Nick Young and Carlos Boozer all looking for a point guard to find them when they get open, building a rapport with Lin as the starter instead of learning on the fly is the smart move for the coaching staff.

Nash’s possible switch to a backup role would also give the team a serious weapon off the bench. The less minutes Nash has on his legs, the longer he can stay healthy and remain a contributing factor to the team.

Lin would play the majority of the minutes each game, and Nash could come in and operate a dangerous second-team offense or even play alongside Kobe in a dynamic backcourt.

No one will ever doubt the skill of Nash when he is healthy, but his unreliability over the last two seasons can’t be ignored. The veteran will remain a valuable asset off the bench, but Lin should be the starter for the Lakers moving forward.

 

*Stats via NBA.com.

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Is Los Angeles Lakers’ Reliance on Steve Nash a Risky Proposition?

This year was supposed to be different for Steve Nash. This was supposed to be the year that Nash finally came through for the Los Angeles Lakers, if only because this would be his last chance. The 40-year-old had already insisted that the 2014-15 season would be his finale in the NBA.

“I think this is my last season,” Nash told Sport TV over the summer (h/t SB Nation’s Jason Patt). “But I still love to play, practice and work on my game. I’m going to spend hopefully many many years living this life without basketball. It’ll be nice to play one more year.”

The Lakers, to their credit, afforded him that opportunity, even if doing so was something of a risk. They certainly didn‘t have to—not after the two disappointing, injury-plagued campaigns they’d seen from Nash; not with young, hungry guards like Jeremy Lin and rookie Jordan Clarkson prepared to contribute at the point; and not with Kobe Bryant ready to resume the lion’s share of the Lakers’ playmaking duties.

They could’ve cut their losses if they wanted to do so. They could’ve paid Steve Nash the $9.7 million he had left on his contract and spread out the resulting cap hit over three years by way of the stretch provision in the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.

Nash became aware of that possibility during the 2013-14 season and even seemed to expect the Lakers to send him on his weary way into retirement.

Instead, the Lakers hung on to Nash, choosing instead to cast their lot with a future Hall of Famer in their attempt to return to relevance after an abysmal 27-55 finish in 2013-14.

So far, the results have been…well, mixed, just as they figured to be. 

Nash, for his part, has said and done all of the right things. Rather than wallow in the self-pity and doubt that might otherwise overwhelm a man of Nash’s advancing age and declining physical condition, the two-time MVP took the revelation in stride and used it to fuel the fire driving his comeback.

“When the media asked me about the stretch provision and I learned what it was, and it became clear to me that I’m a serious candidate for that, it did really energize me,” Nash told Grantland.

It seemed, too, that Nash’s renewal of his vows to his body and the game of basketball had paid off. He came to training camp in great shape, ready to resume his place alongside Bryant in the Lakers backcourt. ”Steve [Nash] is amazing,” Lakers forward Carlos Boozer recently told The Los Angeles Times‘ Eric Pincus. “He’s really good, man. I enjoy playing with Steve. He makes the game really easy—great vision, great decision-making.”

This, after Nash chipped in 11 points and five assists in just 12 minutes during the Lakers’ preseason-opening win over the Denver Nuggets. 

None of this makes the latest stumbling block in Nash’s path back to competition any less disconcerting. Nash sat out L.A.’s second exhibition to rest, then asked out during the first quarter of the third. “We talked a little bit before the game, and he said he just wasn’t feeling quite right,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said after the Lakers’ second blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors in four nights, via ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Arash Markazi. “But he wanted to play, he wanted to give it a try. After the first quarter he said, ‘Coach, you know what, I’m done.’”

Nash has since insisted that he’s fine, that his recusal was more a matter of precaution than of actual injury.

But all would appear to be far from hunky-dory for Nash, if recent reports from Lakers practice are any indication.

Moreover, any time the words “back” and “nerve” wind up in a sentence about Nash, red flags are bound to fly, and rightfully so. Nash has dealt with back problems since his days with the Dallas Mavericks. In fact, Nash’s condition probably played a part in the Mavs‘ decision not to match the six-year, $65 million deal he signed to join the Phoenix Suns a decade ago.

“Steve had some back problems early in his career,” Mavs superstar and former Nash teammate Dirk Nowitzki told The Dallas Morning News‘ Eddie Sefko. “So I think Mark and Donnie were a little worried about his longevity. So I think that’s why they didn’t want to give him a five, six-year deal, which could have been argued at the time.”

Nash’s issues returned to the fore shortly after his purple-and-gold debut. During the second game of the 2012-13 season—the one that was supposed to yield a title contender in L.A., with Nash and Dwight Howard joining the fray—Nash bumped into Portland Trail Blazers then-rookie Damian Lillard.

The knock seemed ordinary enough at first blush. It turned out, though, that the collision broke a bone in Nash’s left leg, which, in turn, wreaked havoc on nerve in the area.

What followed was a protracted recovery that lasted nearly two months—and, evidently, remains incomplete. Nash missed 32 games in 2012-13 before finding his way into just 15 contests this past season.

Perhaps, then, the Lakers would’ve been better off had they decided to move on from Nash this summer. There’s nothing they can do about that now, but maybe they’d be wise to hand the point guard duties off to someone who, at the very least, isn’t the oldest player in the NBA and doesn’t have to be handled with kid gloves.

But Lin and Clarkson aren’t exactly in peak shape themselves. Even if all three were fit to play, Lin and Clarkson wouldn’t necessarily improve the Lakers’ prospects of success this season. The former couldn’t fend off Patrick Beverley for the Houston Rockets’ starting job, while the latter has yet to play a single minute of meaningful NBA basketball after arriving in L.A. as the No. 46 pick in the 2014 draft.

And it’s not as though the entirety of Nash’s tenure with the Lakers has been a lost cause. Two years ago, Nash averaged 13.1 points and 6.8 assists with stellar shooting splits of .501/.448/.922 in the 48 games he played after returning from injury. Last season, Nash managed to put up 19 points and five assists on his 40th birthday, albeit against the sad-sack Philadelphia 76ers.

As far as the Kobe-Nash partnership is concerned, the Lakers weren’t terrible—and were certainly far better than they proved to be last season—when those two last shared the floor on a regular basis. According to NBA.com, L.A. was 1.4 points per 100 possessions better than the opposition with Bryant and Nash in the lineup during the 2012-13 campaign.

Of course, these figures do little to illuminate what the Lakers will look like in 2014-15. Chances are, Bryant won’t be the same player he was two seasons ago, not after battling his way back from Achilles and knee injuries. Nash, too, might be a shell of the shell of his former self that he was when these two members of the 1996 draft class could both be counted on to play from one day to the next.

And, as Nash recently noted, it’s not as though they’ll be operating together within a familiar framework. “In some ways, there are some moments where it’s seamless,” Nash told The Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan (h/t Bleacher Report’s David Murphy). ”And in other ways, we’re still figuring our way together because we haven’t played that many games together and we’ve played together in three different offenses now. So it’s always kind of been in flux and adjustments.”

That being said, though the team’s time and success with Nash at the point have both been fleeting, the glimpses have been tantalizing enough to merit more opportunities for the Santa Clara grad to peddle his wares. As Bleacher Report’s David Murphy notes, L.A.’s opener against Denver featured more than a few of those moments:

Entering the final leg of the journey, two guards with 24 All-Star appearances between them may finally be on the right path together. During their preseason appearance against Denver, the not-quite-geriatric cases started together and looked effective, smooth and oh-so-deliberate.

Bryant’s fadeaway jumpers and pump fakes were tai chi compared to his blinding flurries of old. And Nash crept stealthily through the lane for layups or spotted up craftily from outside.

Long-term, Nash soaking up minutes at the point doesn’t help the Lakers, but neither would handing those minutes to Lin, who’ll be a free agent at season’s end. Short-term, Nash’s superiority as a shooter, ball-handler and passer—all skills that tend to age well, by the way—give L.A. a better chance to win from game to game than would someone like Lin, who doesn’t project quite as well working off the ball next to Bryant.

And if the Lakers still stink, which they figure to, at least the fans, both L.A.’s own and those of the opposing team, will be treated to one last, long look at one of the greatest floor generals the game has ever seen.

In truth, then, leaning on Nash is only a risky proposition insofar as the Lakers can be considered playoff contenders. That wouldn’t appear to be the case in a Western Conference that could run 11-deep with teams capable of competing for postseason spots.

If that’s the case, why not let Nash play? Why not see if he can work his magic, if not for the benefit of the club, then for that of the fans? 

The Lakers have already sunk nearly $10 million into Nash for the season, and there isn’t much that could happen now to render Nash’s tenure in L.A. anything approaching a rousing success. Why not, then, see what Nash has to offer before he hangs up his sneakers for good?

Considering the Lakers’ lackluster outlook for the upcoming season, featuring Nash at the point is less risk than rational response.

 

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Third Year Could Be the Charm for Kobe Bryant-Steve Nash Pairing

This will be the third season for Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash as teammates. The pairing has never really produced an impact, but the third time’s a charm, as the saying goes.

The two backcourt players have been on the same side since 2012 but went nearly 18 months straight without playing together. March 30, 2013 marked the last time they made a joint regular-season appearance, with Nash playing a grand total of two minutes. The Lakers preseason win against the Denver Nuggets on October 6 marked their return to action.

Why such a lengthy mutual absence for our star-crossed guards?

Blame an unfathomable slew of injuries, including Bryant’s blown Achilles tendon and fractured knee, and Nash’s broken leg and a meltdown of back and sciatic nerves.

Now they’re back and finally healthy. And while slower than their halcyon days of old, they’re hoping to put one good season together. It will be their last chance, collectively.

Nash, who will turn 41 in February, said this summer in an interview with Sport TV, per Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, “I think this is my last season. But I still love to play, practice and work on my game. I’m going to spend hopefully many, many years living this life without basketball. It’ll be nice to play one more year.”

Even now, there are still some kinks to work out. As Nash recently said, per Mike Bresnahan for the Los Angeles Times:

In some ways, there are some moments where it’s seamless. And in other ways, we’re still figuring our way together because we haven’t played that many games together and we’ve played together in three different offenses now. So it’s always kind of been in flux and adjustments.

It wasn’t particularly surprising when Bryant gave a more blithe response: “It’s never been something that’s been difficult. It’s extremely, extremely easy. We see a lot of the same things, as far as getting to the right spots. It’s effortless.”

During the prime of their respective careers, the idea of a pairing seemed an interesting but potentially unsettling proposition. Perhaps it was the vast differences between their respective regimes—Phil Jackson’s triangular half-court philosophy versus Mike D’Antoni’s creed of getting an open look in seven seconds or less.

Or maybe it was the prickly nature of Nash and Bryant’s many years as adversaries. The Lakers and Phoenix Suns clashed frequently during the regular season, setting up a number of playoff showdowns.

L.A. beat the Suns in the 2010 Western Conference Finals and 2000 Western Conference semifinals, with Phoenix emerging the victor in the 2007 and 2008 Western Conference first rounds.

But more than anything, it was the tendency of each to dominate and dictate the flow of their respective on-court fiefdoms.

Nash was the ultimate kinetic point guard with the Suns, penetrating and evading defenses while dribbling in dizzying patterns before whipping away no-look passes that invariably found their target. Or, leaving opponents so thoroughly confused and flat-footed that he could take and make a shot on his own.

And then there was the fierce and unrelenting Bryant—an explosive hero-baller whose flawless array of moves and footwork, backed by an insatiable demand to win, propelled him to the very apex of his sport.

How could these two future Hall of Famers ever function together effectively?

During the summer of 2012, the basketball world watched and waited as Nash and Dwight Howard joined forces with Bryant and Pau Gasol, for what was assumed would be a superteam waltz to a Larry O’Brien Trophy presentation.

But that plan never came to fruition. A frustrating first season capped off by injuries sputtered to an end with Howard disembarking during free agency to join the Houston Rockets. And then the horrific 27-55 season that saw Bryant and Nash together in uniform but separated by injuries.

Entering the final leg of the journey, two guards with 24 All-Star appearances between them may finally be on the right path together. During their preseason appearance against Denver, the not-quite-geriatric cases started together and looked effective, smooth and oh-so-deliberate.

Bryant’s fadeaway jumpers and pump fakes were Tai Chi compared to his blinding flurries of old. And Nash crept stealthily through the lane for layups or spotted up craftily from outside.

There’s an old saying in NBA basketball about letting the game come to you. The old guard has no problem with that.

Bryant and Nash’s appearances will include time restrictions, and there will be nights when one sits and rests as the other does yeoman’s work. They’ll play within Byron Scott’s hybrid Princeton offense, which emphasizes off-ball movement and the mid-range game, but there will be moments when the veteran coach allows his veteran stars their moments of improvisation.

The young guns of the league will fly around the court this season while Nash and Bryant take the opportunities that are handed to them and steal plenty more as well.

Like con men in a buddy road movie, the duo will use years of experience, fountains of knowledge and tricks of the trade learned during 36 collective seasons of basketball to put on a show—at least some nights.

Nash sat out the Lakers’ second preseason game but was back in the starting lineup for Sunday’s debacle against the Golden State Warriors. It wasn’t the best of outings—Nash shot 0-of-5 in 12 minutes with a single assist, while Bryant jacked up 13 attempts in 24 minutes, making three. He did, however, have five assists, four steals, a rebound and a blocked shot.

It will be an up-and-down season for the Lakers, and nobody knows which direction their win-loss record will trend. But when these roundball legends are healthy and on the court together, there is the real potential for good things to happen.

Will they gum their opponents to death or lull them to sleep with rocking chair moves? Not exactly. Bryant and Nash may be lions in winter, but they’re still big cats nonetheless—dancing down the hardwood court together, one last time.

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Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe, Nash look healthy in preseason debut

As  preseason games begin to start, Los Angeles Lakers fans have been anxiously waiting to see what this year’s team would look like in game action. Fans looking to see a team that could potentially be competitive in the Western Conference and put an abysmal 2013-14 season out of memory were not disappointed Monday night when the team played its first preseason game against the Denver Nuggets, winning 98-95.
Despite their greatness over the last decade, many question how Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash will fare over the last stages of their careers.
However, the biggest concerns Lakers fans have had all offseason (really for two offseasons) hinged around how arguably two of the greatest players of this generation would look in their first taste of in-game action after spending the majority of the past two seasons recovering from various injuries.
First of all, let’s be clear: the players fans and critics are primarily concerned with here is Kobe Bryant. Many have been following the face of the franchise as h

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