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5 Things to Know About Steve Nash’s Injury

Here are five things to know about Steve Nash’s injury and what’s next for the Lakers.

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Today, news surfaced that Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash will miss the entire 2014-15 NBA season due to recurring nerve damage in his back. This is something that has plagued Nash for quite some time, and now it seems it has ended his playing career.

“Being on the court this season has been my top priority and it is disappointing to not be able to do that right now,” Nash said in a statement. “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.”

Here are five things to know about the situation.

1. Nash’s contract doesn’t come off of the books.

Just because Nash won’t be available this season doesn’t mean his contract will come off of the Lakers’ books. He will earn $9,701,000 this season, and he has made it clear that he will stick around until the end of this contract in order to earn all of the money that he’s owed. Since Nash is out for the season, the Lakers can apply for a disabled player exception, which would entail an independent NBA-assigned doctor verifying the severity of the injury.

2. Nash’s contract can still be traded.

Earlier today, our salary cap guru Eric Pincus put together a list of teams that have dead money on their books, but Nash doesn’t qualify.  The big reason that Nash isn’t dead money is because his deal can still be dealt. He won’t suit up for the Lakers, but his contract could still be used as a potential trade chip for the team. Nash’s deal could still be an expiring contract worth trading for, and it could be used to facilitate a larger deal.

3. The Lakers and Nash could agree to a buyout.

If L.A. wants to agree to a buyout, they could agree to pay Nash part or all of his 2014-15 salary in order to remove him from the roster. This wouldn’t remove his cap figure from the Lakers’ books, but it would open up the roster spot in case they want to bring in a 15th player who can actually contribute this season.

4. Keeping Nash is still a possibility for the Lakers.

If the Lakers don’t have anyone they want to bring in with an open roster spot, keeping Nash is certainly a possibility. L.A. may view the veteran point guard as essentially an assistant coach who could help their other players, specifically point guards Jeremy Lin and Jordan Clarkson. Nash may not be able to contribute on the floor anymore, but he could still have a strong presence in the locker room and lead. It may be time for Nash to start considering life after playing, and helping coach may serve as valuable experience for him (if he’s interested in pursuing that).

5. Nash’s playing career is likely over.

As previously stated, Nash’s contract is set to expire after this season and he’ll become an unrestricted free agent. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy in recent years, and he has no interest in leaving Los Angeles since he’s close to his family. So unless the Lakers or Clippers surprisingly offer him a contract next summer, Nash has likely played his last game, which is unfortunate because it’s always awful to see a player go out with an injury rather than on their own terms.

For more on the Lakers’ salary cap situation, check out our detailed breakdown.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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