Uncertainty looms on when Lakers point guard Steve Nash will return to the court after nursing nerve irritation in his back.
The Lakers have penciled him out for at least two weeks, though that timeline could extend longer once the team reevaluates Nash in about 10 days. Considering that backdrop, would the Lakers look to add another point guard?
“Not right now,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in an interview with this newspaper. “We have three capable point guards.”
Kupchak was referring to Lakers guards Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar, whom combined for 18 assists in the Lakers’ 116-95 victory Tuesday over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center. They have both averaged about 10 points and five assists. Meanwhile, Nash has averaged only 6.7 points on 26 percent shooting and 4.8 assists, while also sitting out of the Lakers’ tail end of two back-to-back games.
“I’d like to have three again,” Kupchak said, referring to his point guards. “But with Steve being out these two weeks, I think we’re fine at that position.”
Nash, who will turn 40 in February, is owed $9.3 million this season and $9.7 million next season. The Lakers could waive him via the so-called “stretch provision” to spread out his remaining salary over the next three years to reduce the team’s salary cap. Nash indicated before the injury he had no plans to retire, and he hasn’t suggested those sentiments will change.
The Lakers aren’t thinking that way, either.
“It didn’t come up. Why would it come up?” Kupchak said. “He’ll be back playing. We’re real early in the season.”
Still, it’s been a trying time for Nash ever since the Lakers acquired him in the 2012 offseason by trading away two first-round picks (2013, 2015) and two second round picks (2013, 2014). Kupchak originally called the move a “home run.” But so far, the Lakers have struck out with Nash. After staying sidelined for 32 games last season, Nash has handled a variety of ailments this season, including a sore left ankle, a stiff neck and pain in his quadricep muscles. After spending all of the offseason rehabbing his back and hamstrings, Nash said he felt increased pain recently in those areas.
“There’s nothing you can do about it,” Kupchak said. “As frustrating as it is to people who watch him, it’s ten times more frustrating for him. He’s a professional and it pains him that he’s not able to play. It’s frustrating. He’s down a little bit, understandably. He wants to play.”
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