Mike D’Antoni wants to see Steve Nash play 2-on-2, 3-on-3 before return

CLEVELAND — No matter how much Mike D’Antoni tells himself otherwise, it’s unlikely Steve Nash will play this week on the Lakers’ four-game trip this week.

As Nash rehabs from a fractured left leg that has sidelined him for 19 games, D’Antoni will eventually want him to see him play in a series of two-on-two and three-on-three drills before returning.

“If he wakes up the next day without pain,” D’Antoni said, “then that will be the indicator.”

It remains to be seen when that will actually happen.

Nash participated in a series of ball handling and shooting drills during morning shootaround. D’Antoni also revealed Nash has evening workouts that gives a better indicator of his progression. But Nash hasn’t progressed enough to run at full speed or by making hard cuts.

D’Antoni has repeatedly gushed that Nash’s arrival will solve most of the Lakers’ (9-12) problems. So much that he joked that “I’m like a kid at Christmas trying to get to the presents.” It’s understandable considering Nash won two NBA MVPs under D’Antoni in Phoenix and ran his offense with efficiency. But in recent days, D’Antoni has tempered his rhetoric, partly because of Nash’s uncertain return and partly because of his admission he won’t solve every issue plaguing the Lakers.

“I just can’t put everything on his back,” D’Antoni said. “That’s not fair. We have to win games and play better. Obviously he’s going to be a big part coming back. When he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go. I don’t think he knows totally. But hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.”

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