At Los Angeles Lakers morning shootaround, the whispers were finally spoken at full volume: Steve Nash was back and playing on Friday night against the Washington Wizards.
With Jordan Farmar out for at least two weeks due to a right groin strain, the Lakers were short on point guards. So, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni approached his 40-year-old injured point guard and talked.
“He approached me yesterday morning,” Nash said at Friday's team shootaround. “I came into practice. He asked if I wanted to play, and I almost ripped his arm off.”
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Nash had already accepted the fact that his season was probably over. That did not stop him from working out, but he was not expecting to be back on the court at this junction.
“I didn’t think I would play,” Nash said. “I thought I might when Jordan (Farmar) got hurt, but then, no one tapped me on the shoulder. So, I thought, ‘well, that’s probably it.’ Luckily, I got an opportunity here.”
D’Antoni was caution about Nash’s return and explained that he would ease his aging point guard back over the final 15 games. For Friday night, the goal was to give the Canadian five or six minutes per half.
“It won’t be a whole lot of minutes that he’s going to play tonight.” D’Antoni said. “We’ll try to work him back into it.”
Against the Washington Wizards, Nash will not be starting.
“It’s a big step to taking a two-time MVP and saying ‘you come off the bench,’” D’Antoni tried to justify telling an all-time great to come off the bench on a losing team. “But I think since he hasn’t practiced and hasn’t done a lot, and we want to be really really cautious. And so, not starting him makes sense.”
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NBCLA.com asked Nash if he could remember the last time he played in a bench role. Nash thought for a moment and responded, “No, I can’t.”
However, he was in good spirits and did not seem affected by the change in role.
“I’m excited,” Nash said. “The only tricky thing is I haven’t practiced. Yesterday, we did five-on-[zero]. We didn’t scrimmage or anything.”
For Friday, no one really knows what to expect, but Nash will play.
Notes: D’Antoni announced a change to his starting lineup on Friday morning. Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Kent Bazemore, Pau Gasol and Robert Sacre will start against the Wizards. Nick Young is also available off the bench, and D’Antoni said that Jordan Hill will play minutes off the bench.