Healthy Gasol, Nash to be Protected in Camp

nashPerhaps the biggest and most unfortunate storyline of the 2012-13 season in Los Angeles was the Murphy’s Law progression of injuries. Every key player, let alone the head coach, had a major injury that ultimately derailed L.A.’s late push when Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles on April 12.

Bryant remains on the shelf with no set timetable to return as he continues rehabilitation, but Pau Gasol and Steve Nash — L.A.’s other two key pieces — have started camp in better health than they were able to achieve last season.

Nash suffered a fracture in his leg in just the second game of the season, and wasn’t able to stay ahead of back/hamstring/nerve issues that emerged when he returned in late December and plagued him throughout the season.

Gasol had a plethora of problems, including a concussion, a tear of his plantar fascia and tendonosis in both knees that required an offseason procedure from which he’s been rehabilitating.

L.A.’s approach with both players will to be to limit their overall exertion in training camp while getting them enough reps to get in game shape and get integrated with their teammates. It’s way too early to tell how that will work for either player, but significantly, both are in solid shape thus far.

“Pau was out there (Saturday),” said Mike D’Antoni. “I just won’t let him and Steve Nash do two-a-days. They know what we’re trying to do. They were in the film room. I just didn’t want them to push it early. They could have gone if they needed to.”

That’s all well and good for Gasol and Nash.

“I feel good,” said Nash. “At this time of year, I need to play and get reps, but obviously find a balance between overdoing it as well … It obviously gets a little more difficult in that you have to be more thorough the older you get, and obviously, I don’t want to discount there’s a factor with age as much as I don’t want to indulge in that. I still feel really capable, positive and optimistic, especially at the start of the season.”

“I was cleared to (practice) and the doctors gave me the (OK) I was ready to do it,” added Gasol. “Now it’s just absorbing the load that I put myself through out there, and going day by day … I don’t think I’ll ever be 100 percent anymore, but I think I’ll be a lot better than I was last year and that will be a big improvement.”

Starting To Put In The System:
Installing a system of play on both ends of the court has been something Mike D’Antoni and his coaching staff have been very much looking forward to for months, particularly since last season didn’t afford the same opportunity.

Camp started on Saturday night and continued into Sunday morning’s session at the team’s practice facility, with an emphasis on general teaching as is consistent for most teams.

“The biggest thing is trying to put in everything we do,” said D’Antoni. “We try to teach them everything first and then we’ll break it down each day. Yesterday was just devoted to how we want to play offensively and defensively, and today we’ll start breaking down segments of it.”

In essence, the morning sessions are for film and the putting in of various sets and schemes. At night, the players scrimmage. The fact that nearly the entire roster has been at the facility playing games and working out for most of September has aided the process.

“These guys have been going 90 percent for the last month, so it’s pretty smooth and they’re pretty far along,” said the coach. “Everything is going to be the same we did in Phoenix. We might do it a different speed. That speed is determined by the players, which is fine, but the basic principles are all the same. We’re moving the ball, getting wide-open shots, and hopefully we make it.”