MEMPHIS, Tenn — Steve Nash appeared startled.
Moments earlier, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said it was “possible” both Nash and Steve Blake could return from injury when the Lakers host the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday so long as they reported no pain during Monday’s practice. Nash has missed the past 10 games because of a minor fracture in his left leg. Blake has sat out of the past five because of a lower abdominal strain.
Does Nash feel ready for that possible return?
“I don’t think so,” Nash said in a worried tone. “I can’t jog yet. We’ll see. Maybe.”
It’s unlikely. The Lakers have already penciled out Nash for tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies and Saturday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers then plan to reevaluate Nash on Monday.
“I’m stepping out of my expertise,” D’Antoni said, “but I’m saying it’s possible because I like to believe it.”
Nash would like to believe so, too. After all, he’s more than eager to reunite with D’Antoni, who coached him through four seasons with Phoenix where he flourished enough in his pick-and-roll offense to win two NBA MVP awards. As D’Antoni said, “Nash can do everything. He doesn’t need an offense. He just needs the ball.”
But Nash said his rehab has remained limited, the latest involving running the elliptical and lifting weights. Nash had performed stationary ball handling and shooting exercises, but soon stopped over concerns he may risk further injury.
“It’s difficult for me to be myself and not be playing,” Nash said. “You’re not healthy, you can’t work, you can’t add energy. You can’t do anything. I’m watching and trying to take it in, but I’m also trying to fight my own mentality in getting my body ready to play.”
Still, the Lakers have noted over the weeks how Nash has kept a positive attitude. During a recent practice, several Lakers laughed as Nash smiled as he ran on the elliptical. It personified his laid-back demeanor. But Nash said he feels different beneath the surface.
“I’m trying, but It’s hard,” Nash said. “I have my moments where I get down. It’s hard and frustrating. I haven’t been out this long in 10 years. It’s frustrating. I worked really hard this summer and through training camp, I was just starting to come into myself. Now how long is that going to take to get that back when I’m healthy? That all plays in your mind and makes you really eager.”
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