MARCH 20TH: Nash plans to return to the Lakers’ lineup on Friday night, a league source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. He’ll likely come off the bench and serve as a backup to Kendall Marshall.
MARCH 19TH: The Lakers haven’t completely ruled out a return for Nash this season, D’Antoni now says, according to McMenamin (Twitter link).
MARCH 13TH: D’Antoni says definitively that Nash isn’t going to return this season, tweets Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. There remains no formal announcement from the team.
MARCH 3RD: Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni doubts point guard Steve Nash will return to play this season, tweets Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. D’Antoni isn’t ruling Nash out entirely, as Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com points out (on Twitter), but D’Antoni wants to give minutes to the team’s younger guards, and the 40-year-old Nash apparently still isn’t feeling right. There’s a strong chance the two-time MVP has played his last, given his persistent injuries the past two seasons and the specter that the Lakers would use the stretch provision to waive him in the summer.
Nash recently said he’d either be “back with the Lakers next year or this is it,” dispelling the notion that he’d play for the Clippers. GM Mitch Kupchak has said it would be “unethical” for the team to try to talk Nash into retirement this summer, and Nash recently denied a report that he’s planning to walk away. Still, Nash acknowledged earlier this year that the Lakers could waive him and use the stretch provision to spread his $9.701MM cap hit for next season over the next three years instead.
The Lakers could invite Nash back on a cheaper contract if they waive him, though it seems unlikely he’d warrant any more than the minimum salary. Nash has suffered from pain stemming from a nerve root irritation that happened as a result of a fractured left leg early last season, just after he’d inked a three-year contract for slightly more than $27.9MM to join the Lakers in a sign-and-trade from the Suns.
Kupchak has said he still has no regrets about the deal, even though it’s seemingly been governed by Murphy’s Law from day one. Nash’s performance declined last year, and this season, he’s appeared in just 10 games. The tenth game made it impossible for the Lakers to wipe his salary for next season completely off their books in a medical retirement scenario.
In any case, Nash isn’t quite ready to declare himself done for the year, as Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News observes (Twitter link).
“We’ll see,” Nash said. “I couldn’t really make a prediction. If I get a chance, it’ll be great.”