Player Capsule: Steve Nash
When Steve Nash was acquired over the summer and subsequently reunited with Mike D'Antoni when his old coach replaced Mike Brown in mid November, the hope was to bring Showtime back to Los Angeles. Together, they had years of success running an exciting, up-tempo, fast-paced style of play Phoenix.
But for more than one reason, this plan never unfolded as imagined.
Nash acknowledged in his exit interview that trying to implement so many new pieces, along with the coaching change and – perhaps most importantly – injuries derailed an otherwise hopeful season in the beginning.
“It feels like we never even got started,” Nash explained. “That was frustrating and mentally difficult.”
Especially for Nash, who played in just 50 games, the fewest total since the 1998-99 lockout season. He wasn't even on the floor when D'Antoni took over, missing 24 games due to a lower leg fracture suffered in the second contest of the year, and all of April because of hamstring/hip/back issues. When he returned from the first injury, D'Antoni tried to install his system, but ultimately had to put Nash off the ball as Kobe Bryant took over primary ballhandling duties. One of the best shooters in league history, Nash barely missed his fifth 50/40/90 season (49.7 from the field/43.8 from three/92.2 on free throws).
Meanwhile, he averaged 6.7 assists, his lowest total in more than a decade, with Bryant and later Pau Gasol doing much of the playmaking as L.A. went 28-12 in the final 40 games to rally into playoff position.
“We (had) a lot of guys who have had great careers, great success that have done it their way,” Nash said in his exit interview. “But when you come together, you can’t do it four or five different ways. We kept fighting, and played really good basketball for the last couple months."
In spite of missing all of April, the Santa Clara product returned to start in Games 1 and 2 of the playoffs at San Antonio at less than 100 percent. He averaged 12.5 points and 4.5 assists in 30 minutes before being shut down for the final two with recurring back/hip/hamstring issues.
It's the injuries, more than anything else, that frustrated the 39-year-old to the point where he's looking forward most to an offseason where he can get his body where it needs to be, and subsequently show Lakers fans what he can do in 2013-14.
“I’m definitely going to prepare better than I ever have to make next year (different),” he said. “There’s still a lot of work to do to get right.”