After Sunday’s blowout loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Los Angeles Lakers met for practice in El Segundo on Monday. Steve Nash’s health and the team’s ever-changing identity were the primary topics of the national holiday.
“We got three games in four nights coming, so today was watching film, going over stuff--more cerebral than physical,” Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni described working on Veterans Day. “We got to find our identity.”
The coach also said lineup changes were “definitely a possibility” but refused to commit to returning to a small lineup or sticking with his combination of Chris Kaman and Pau Gasol. The Lakers’ Spanish center, however, sounded a warning about the constant flux in the Lakers’ lineups this season.
“We have to figure out our identity and how we play and be consistent with it,” Gasol said on Monday. “You can’t second guess yourself. You got to make up your mind now and go with the thing that’s best.”
“Otherwise, if we continue to go back and forth, back and forth, we’re never really going to establish it and develop [to] the full potential,” the Lakers’ captain continued. “That’s something that the coaching staff need to be aware of.”
“I always prefer going a little bigger,” Gasol clearly stated his preference given a choice.
D’Antoni also touched on Nash’s health and held out hope for a quick return to the floor by the 39-year-old oft injured Laker. He revealed that the Lakers would likely turn to Jodie Meeks and Steve Blake in the backcourt if Nash was unable to go Tuesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Surprisingly, Nash took a moment to talk to reporters on Monday, but the message was not all that positive.
“No...same as last night,” Nash responded when asked if he had seen any improvement in health. “It’s slowly getting worse and worse.”
“A little bit of rest might help.” However, Nash said the rest was secondary: “I need to rehab, work through it.”
In all likelihood, Nash is out for Tuesday, Meeks is in, and D’Antoni is hoping to small, but the Lakers are better off playing big. Sooner rather than later, the Lakers need to pick an identity and stick with it.
Unfortunately, that identity cannot rely on Nash and will have to completely renew whenever Kobe Bryant returns to the floor.