Could Los Angeles Lakers Turn Steve Nash into a Role Player?

Steve Nash will turn 40 years old in the middle of next season and after struggling through a frustrating, injury-plagued campaign in 2012-13, the 17-year veteran could find himself in a very different role next year.

Mike Trudell of sat down with Los Angeles Lakers trainer Gary Vitti, who chronicled the rotten injury luck that helped sink the team last year. Amid that conversation, Vitti let slip an interesting thought about how L.A. could best use Nash going forward:

But I think he's going to come back in great shape, and then it's all about how he's used. You don't want to beat him up in practice. Save it for the game, figure out the appropriate minutes that put him in a successful situation. The example I use is Robert Horry, where we played him a lot of minutes, and it was difficult for him to recover and be productive at his age. But he goes to San Antonio, plays 18 minutes a game, and the guy was an unbelievable force off the bench for them. I think if we figure out how best to use Steve, he can be the same way.

Vitti's comments don't make it clear whether the team envisions Nash as a starter with a low minute allotment (think Tim Duncan), or a reserve who comes in to run the second unit. Either way, it seems clear that the Lakers no longer feel Nash is capable of handling big minutes.

It's no wonder the team has that opinion, as Nash hasn't shown the ability to log serious playing time at any point in his career.

In 2005-06, Nash averaged a career high in minutes per game—just 35.4 with the Phoenix Suns. Since then, he's been in the mid- to low-30s every year. Considering that Nash has been playing relatively few minutes for the bulk of his career, it's going to be interesting to see what kind of a reduction the Lakers have planned.

Either way, L.A. has to do something to ensure production from the only player under contract after next season.

Even though Nas...

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