Injuries more than anything else have been the story of the Lakers season to this point, and while many felt that even a healthy L.A. squad would have trouble competing with the Western Conference elite, that task became impossible once Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, and others went down with injuries for extended periods of time.
Some of the team’s star players are expected back shortly, however, with Nash being on track to potentially make his return as early as next week.
D’Antoni says he hopes Nash can come back next Tuesday. Nash has been out since late November.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) January 23, 2014
The question with Nash when he does return will be this: Exactly what version of him will we see?
Nash’s health has deteriorated over the past two seasons to the point where he was simply trying to make it back to action in any condition that would allow him to play. Obviously his defense has been a concern in recent years even when he’s been close to 100 percent, although he won’t be much worse than a substantially younger and fully healthy Kendall Marshall has been as a replacement.
In addition to Nash, Bryant is expected to return sometime in the next few weeks, though he’d rather not play in the All-Star game even if he’s back by then.
The season is a lost one for the Lakers, but it’s important for Bryant and Nash to play as many games as possible to get fully right from a basketball standpoint, and learn their limitations following the injuries so they can tailor their workouts (and their games) over the summer in order to have a healthier and more productive campaign next season.