Steve Nash: ‘Lakers Should Start With Long-Term Plan’

It’s hard to believe, but Steve Nash played in the NBA for 19 years. Need perspective on that? Okay, how’s this: When Nash was drafted in 1996, Karl-Anthony Towns, the likely No. 1 pick on Thursday, was just seven months old.

Think about that.

Did the 40-year-old Nash, who retired in March, start to feel old by the end of his career?

“You know what’s weird? I think for whatever reason, I fooled myself into thinking I was kind of one of the guys still, and then I realized these 19-year-old, 20-year-old guys come in and probably look at me and think, ‘This guy is so old,’” the two-time NBA MVP said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “You still have your image that you’re one of the boys. You were there first, so you belong. And then they must come in and think, ‘My goodness, he’s (old).’”

Nash played the majority of his career in Phoenix but spent his last three seasons with the Lakers, who have missed the playoffs two years in a row and haven’t made it past the Western Conference semifinals since 2010.

What’s in store for this franchise?

“Well, I think they’re rebuilding,” Nash said. “As you know, sports is cyclical and they were at the top for quite a bit of the 2000s, and now Kobe is coming to the end of his career, possibly. They have a roster full of really young guys. They have some nice pieces. Jordan Clarkson’s got a chance to be a terrific player, and they have the second pick in the draft tomorrow. Whether they keep that pick and build around some young guys like Julius Randle and (Jahlil) Okafor and Jordan Clarkson, you have some really nice pieces to build for the future. But at the same time, the Lakers sometimes (are) known for making a trade and trying to get a veteran for that pick. So it’ll be interesting to see what route they take. I think it’s difficult to be a patient Laker fan, but they got some pieces and I think the future is bright. Give them a couple more years.”

Kobe Bryant, however, doesn’t have a couple more years with the Lakers. In fact, he may have just one. That’s the message from general manager Mitch Kupchak, anyway.

Should the Lakers move on from Bryant or build around him next season and give him one more shot?

“It’s tough to do that,” Nash said of the latter strategy. “One, because you don’t know how healthy Kobe is going to be, and two, you don’t want to mortgage the future to give one more shot to Kobe, who, frankly, is just trying to get back on the court. I wouldn’t put it past him having a great year. At the same time, you never know how injuries pan out. So I think (that the Lakers), as painful as it is, should start with a long-term plan to try to develop some of these young players. Kobe can mentor them, teach them and be a part of that culture moving forward. At the same time, if a great opportunity came up to acquire an All-Star-caliber player now, I think the Lakers are the type of franchise that would go for it.”

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