SACRAMENTO — In what he’s described as a “horrible 18 months for me,” Steve Nash offered no clarity on when that will all end.
The 39-year-old point guard revealed he had hoped earlier this week that he would return when the Lakers (9-9) visit the Sacramento Kings (4-11) tonight at Sleep Train Arena. But Nash said “calmer heads prevailed” and opted a more conservative approach to ensure he wouldn’t “risk this kind of yo-yo season.”
The persisting nerve issues in Nash’s back prompted Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni to practice him for three consecutive days for only about 15 minutes each. Nash also sounds unsure whether he can play when the Lakers host the Toronto Raptors Sunday at Staples Center in what will mark Kobe Bryant’s arrival after rehabbing his left torn left Achilles tendon for the past eight months.
“I might not be able to play anymore,” Nash said. “I might have to yo-yo it. I might be able to play the rest of the way. Honestly right now, I’m trying to see if I can play the rest of the way.”
The uncertainty goes beyond whether Nash will play Sunday against Toronto, which D’Antoni considers “doubtful.”
Nash also conceded he doesn’t know if he’ll increase his practice level both because of the team’s light schedule to ensure a healthy roster and his hope to strike the right balance in phasing back into the lineup.
“It’s a very slippery slope if I do have a setback,” Nash said. “But I have to dance with the devil at some point and get back out there. It’s kind of tricky.”
Nothing has gone according to plan for Nash.
Plenty anticipated His arrival to the Lakers’ last season would’ve given him his first NBA championship, an accolade that would add to his storied Hall of Fame career that included two NBA regular-season MVP awards and a fourth-place standing on the NBA’s all-time leaders board in assists. But Nash missed a combined 32 games because of a fractured left leg and ensuring back and hamstring injuries. He spent all offseason healing his back and hamstring only to feel limited this season, averaging only 6.7 points on 26.1 percent shooting and 4.8 assists in 22.5 minutes through six contests. During his 10-game absence, Nash worked last week with his personal trainer Rick Celebrini in Vancouver only to still encounter more obstacles.
Though he conceded “it’s a battle every day,” Nash was left clinging to optimism that he at least made through this week’s practices without any additional setbacks.
“The most important thing is I got through it. That was kind of the baseline goal. Now it’s a matter of seeing how much I can sustain and at least how much I can get through it where it becomes sustainable. I think the idea is not to rush back and have a whole season where it’s up and down. It’s to try to give this thing a chance to get some stability to where I can try to play the better part of the season instead of trying to rush back at the first sight of improvement and I’m back and forth all year.”
Will that happen?
“The bottom line is we don’t know how much I can sustain,” Nash said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on back there. I’ve worked really hard and I made a lot of improvement and I’m gaining confidence I can play again. We’ll see how realistic that is to survive the demands of the game instead of a progressive schedule.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org