Mike D’Antoni: Steve Nash “probably won’t” appear in 4-game trip

After proclaiming optimism this morning that Steve Nash could play in the Lakers’ upcoming four-game trip, coach Mike D’Antoni outlined the reality.

He said Nash “probably won’t” play this week, including stops against Cleveland (Tuesday), New York (Thursday), Washington (Friday) and Philadelphia (Sunday). Entering the Lakers’ game tonight against the Utah Jazz, Nash has already missed 18 games because of a fractured left leg.

“It was just me talking and I probably talked too much,” D’Antoni said. “I wanted Steve to come back last week in my mind. But he has a timetable and he’s not running yet so there’s no way he’s playing right now. So it’ll be a little bit. But hopefully we’re closer to the end than we are at the beginning. I always want him to play, even one-legged, but that’s not fair.”

Nash spent Sunday’s morning shootaround performing various agility drills with strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco. But Nash has yet to be cleared for running exercises

Yet, ever since he took over the Lakers’ head-coaching job, D’Antoni has expressed giddiness working again with Steve Nash.

Nash won two NBA MVP awards after playing for D’Antoni through four seasons in Phoenix and running his famed fast-paced offense to near perfection. D’Antoni believes Nash will help the Lakers overcome the ongoing learning curves that’s contributed to a 9-11 record, good for 11th place in the Western Conference. Yet, D’Antoni highlighted this reality whenever Nash returns.

“It won’t cure everything, but it will help,” D’Antoni said. “If at that point, it doesn’t cure some stuff, we need to have some heart to hearts.”

D’Antoni then couldn’t resist poking a dig at Nash’s well-documented struggles on defense.

“Raja Bell said he was first-team all-defense because he guarded his man and Steve’s,” D’Antoni said, recalling his days coaching Nash in Phoenix. “Steve’s great. Defensively he’ll talk and be in the right position all the time. He does a good job, but I like to give him grief.”

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