Steve Nash is the designated leader and looked upon as a sage in the NBA. He joined the Lakers for different reasons, but there’s a big possibility that a title chase was his main motivation. Sadly, he didn’t get it last season and it’s less likely he’ll get it this season. He wasn’t able to play his role much, being tired and injured most of the season and old and slow when he’s on the floor. Yet the wits are still there and perhaps, the fight.
Taking the loss of Dwight Howard in the most practical way possible, Nash saw that the Lakers really had no chance even before the meeting. Howard’s reluctance to the pick-and roll (which is a strength of his) was a big red flag. Nash, as a good soldier still tried. As he will for the whole of next season.
Steve Nash was pragmatic when looking back at what he described as a “disaster” of a season that led to Dwight Howard announcing last week his departure for the Houston Rockets: Howard never wanted to be a Los Angeles Laker in the first place.
“Ultimately, I think Dwight wasn’t comfortable here and didn’t want to be here and I think if he didn’t want to be here, there’s no point for anyone in him being here,” Nash told “The Mason & Ireland Show” on ESPN LA 710 radio on Tuesday. “So, we wish him the best and move on.”
Nash, along with Kobe Bryant, were brought in by the Lakers to join their pitch, trying to persuade Howard to stay in L.A. The two-time league MVP was not hopeful heading into the sit-down with the three-time defensive player of the year.
“Frankly, I thought before the meeting, we didn’t really have a chance and I’d like to think that after the meeting we had a chance,” Nash said.
Nash was reluctant to divulge specifics from the meeting, but acknowledged that Howard voiced some frustration.
“Dwight had some issues with the season,” Nash said. “I think it kind of basically goes with what he said to the media that he never quite felt embraced in L.A. He never quite felt supported. That’s basically it. I think in some ways you can read into that what you will, but I think he never quite felt comfortable at home and I don’t know if that’s anybody’s fault.”
Howard chose the Rockets over the Lakers on Friday after eliminating the Dallas Mavericks,Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks from consideration.
Nash said Howard had “difficulties assimilating” with the Lakers in his only season with the team mostly because of health issues. Howard was coming off back surgery and also suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder that forced him to miss six games. Nash lumped himself and Pau Gasol as players who also were hampered by lingering injuries that ended up hurting the Lakers.
“When you’re talking about three guys you’re really going to rely on that aren’t themselves, this league is too good [to disregard that handicap],” Nash said.
However, Nash said that X’s and O’s played just as big a part with Howard as health did.
“He didn’t seem like he really wanted to do a pick-and-roll offense, maybe because he had run one in Orlando for so long and he wanted to get in the post more,” Nash said.
The 17-year veteran was skeptical that Houston would provide a drastically different offense for Howard to thrive in.
“We’ll see,” Nash said. “Houston runs a pick-and-roll offense and they are littered with shooting and can maybe space the floor more for him so he can have more opportunities inside with space.”
Nash also defended Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, who called for Howard to run all of those pick-and-rolls and play the part of Amar’e Stoudemire, a plan from Nash and D’Antoni’s days in Phoenix together.
“I think he’s a bright coach and I think he’s got a good touch with the team and I think depending on how this roster rounds out, I don’t mind Mike D’Antoni in an underdog situation when everybody’s kind of written him off,” Nash said.
The veteran point guard is preparing for his charity soccer game on Sunday, the Steve Nash Foundation Showdown at the Salvation Army Red Shield Community Center in Los Angeles. He’s also preparing for the Lakers to get back on track through a process he knows could take some time.
“The year came and went with unceremoniously being dumped out of the playoffs and here we are rebuilding,” Nash said.
That rebuilding doesn’t mean bottoming out, in Nash’s opinion.
“We got a lot to play for, to try to make our team into something — championship or not — that our fans are proud of and feel good about and can’t wait to go see out there on the floor every night and try to beat people,” Nash said.
That is, as long as the Lakers can actually stay off the injured list.
“A lot of it depends on health,” Nash said. “Am I going to be 100 percent? Which I totally believe I wholeheartedly will be. Is Kobe going to be at what level? I wouldn’t put anything past him. Is Pau going to be sitting ready for a full season? And Jordan [Hill], after his injury, too. If we’re all healthy, and we’ll see how we round out the roster and how we come together, who knows what we’re capable of. But I definitely start, regardless of any of those answers, finding a way we can be a playoff team and then let’s see if we can make something special out of it.”