Mike D’Antoni conceded possibility Steve Nash returns as a reserve

Whenever Steve Nash earns an eventual induction to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, it’s likely his resume will include his most-valuable-player awards (two), his assists (10,278) and free-throw shooting (90.4 percent).

The 160 games he played off the bench? Nothing more than a footnote. But it could define how he plays this season with the Lakers. With Nash expected to practice Tuesday after spending the past week in Vancouver to heal the nerve pain in his back, D’Antoni conceded the possibility he will return as a reserve.

“We’ll see,” D’Antoni said. “We haven’t gotten there yet.”

D’Antoni said Nash reported “some improvements” in the nerve pain in his back, which has also affected both his left hamstring and left hip. But Nash playing a bench role would seem unthinkable in other seasons. Before his injury, though, Nash averaged only 6.6 points on 26.1 percent shooting and 4.8 assists in 22.5 minutes. The Lakers have also gone 6-3 in his absence, partly of the team’s backcourt depth in Steve Blake (9.8 points, 7.8 assists) and Jordan Farmar (9.9 points, 4.6 assists).

“They’re playing great,” D’Antoni said. “I thought they would as long as they had enough time and space.”

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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