In what will likely become a pressing question everyday throughout the season, both Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash offered no more clarity on whether he’d sit out Wednesday at Golden State after playing in the season opener Tuesday against the Clippers at Staples Center.
But D’Antoni offered that he “probably” will try to play Nash under 30 minutes in games that he suits up. It’s likely though that the Lakers won’t decide until after the Lakers’ season opener Tuesday against the Clippers in a designated home game at Staples Center. It’s also possible the Lakers won’t decide until shortly before the Lakers play Wednesday in Golden State.
“I’m not having any preconceived notions,” Nash said. “If I play 35 minutes tomorrow night, I’m fine with that. If he doesn’t need me that much, I’m fine too. I’m not going with any preconceived notions. I’m just going to go out and play the game hard and go out anyway I can and let Mike decide what he wants to do.”
Nash and D’Antoni remain reluctant in outlining a definitive strategy on how the 39-year-old plays through a grinding season for two reasons. Plenty of it depends on Nash’s health. Even if the Lakers have point guard depth in Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar, the Lakers want to ensure Nash can help them stay competitive in the playoff hunt.
Yet, so much uncertainty lingers around Nash before the season has even started. He described his neck stiffness as “a little bit better” and his sore left ankle as “not great, but not bad.”
“He doesn’t have a broken leg,” D’Antoni joked, referring to Nash’s left leg injury that contribute to him missing 32 games last season. “We’ve improved. He only has a stiff neck. He’s able to play, but it’s something we’ll look at and try to make him look fresh.”
Nash hasn’t played more than 34.3 minutes per game since the 2007-08 season, which marked D’Antoni’s last season with the Phoenix Suns. Thoough Former Suns coach Alvin Gentry trimmed Nash’s minutes to 31.6 minutes in the 2011-12 season, Nash recalled it wasn’t as much as originally planned.
“It wasn’t really done,” Nash said. “It was talked about. But it wasn’t really done.”
Nash averaged 32.5 minutes last year, partly because the Lakers’ lacked point guard depth with Steve Blake nursing a 37-game absence because of abdominal issues and veteran Chris Duhon and second-year player Darius Morris showing inconsistency. This season, the Lakers expressed optimism Blake and Jordan Farmar will make it more possible for to reduce Nash’s playing time.
Despite his ankle and neck issues, Nash played 29 minutes in the Lakers’ preseason finale Friday against Utah, a stark increase from the 20.2 minutes he averaged in the previous five games.
“I’m okay. I’m not where I’d like to be, but I think it will take some time to adapt,” Nash said. “I have to get on top of it. But I feel good enough to go.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at email@example.com