Aside from Kobe Bryant practicing in preparation for his impending return, Steve Nash also participated, including some 5-on-5 scrimmaging, according to coach Mike D’Antoni. Nash did not go through the entirety of it with the rest of his teammates in an effort not to rush him back too soon, too fast. The plan for now is to increase his minutes each day, barring no setbacks.
“We didn’t want to push him,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll give him 10 (minutes) today, 15 (minutes) tomorrow, 20 (minutes) the next day. We’ll try to ramp him up. I don’t know (if he plays Friday). It depends on how he feels tomorrow and can he go 15 (minutes) and can he go 20 (minutes).”
While the Lakers were away on their most recent three-game road trip, Nash spent the time in Vancouver working out with his own therapist.
“It was weird,” he said of being apart from the team. “The only thing that made it acceptable for me was that I was improving every day. It was really worthwhile. I made big strides and I could feel it everyday. The amount of work I could do and sustain and the different things I could do was a huge week and it gave me a chance.”
Nash could not elaborate on whether he felt better or worse compared to the start of training camp, but remained optimistic he was heading in the right direction.
“I’ve had so many different injuries pop up,” Nash said. “Although I thought I could overcome the nerve issues, I think when you’re playing with a tweaked ankle, back spasms or a thigh bruise, it aids or abets that poor movement that allows that nerve root to become impinged. It’s difficult to translate or compare but I’m on the right path and I improved a great deal this week.”
Despite much improvement over the last week, Nash says he feels no added pressure to rush back and return with Jordan Farmar out approximately four weeks with a torn hamstring. Steve Blake remains the only healthy point guard on the roster and Xavier Henry played some fourth-quarter minutes at the position in the team’s last home game against Portland.
“I don’t think I can have that urgency,” Nash said. “My nature is to play through things and I’ve done that my whole career, but I think that’s foolish at this stage. If I race to come back Friday and it’s not quite right, I could be out forever, or for months. So I think it’s really important, whether I can play Friday or not, to make the right decision and not be hasty.”
Below is a transcription of other questions Nash addressed post practice:
Q: On the frustration he feels trying to work his way back:
Nash: I think I’ve really had to adjust my focus and my approach or else I would go crazy. I’ve tried to worry about the things I can control, try to embrace the challenge and work hard every day to get better, and embrace that part of it. I think that’s the only approach. If I have the same approach I’ve always had, it’s going to be detrimental. I just have to adjust and that’s easier said than done. Sometimes I get a good night’s sleep to have that same approach the next day.
Q: On if he sees the end of his career nearing:
Nash: The finish is close regardless. I’ve got 18 months or so of basketball left. How much of that 18 months I get to play crosses my mind everyday. Every day I’m out is a day lost. It’s not so much that way when you have eight or 10 years left in your career. But when you’re at the end like this, it can put pressure on you and make things different and difficult. I have to be as positive and engaged every day in a different set of circumstances and try to keep getting better to give myself a chance.
Q: On how he felt today in practice:
Nash: I don’t know about a quick comeback but I was encouraged. I practiced today some and I feel OK. I have no doubt that I’ll get back on the court. I think with all the issues with my spine and my condition, it’s a matter of how sustainable is it. That’s what I’m working hard on every day – to try to develop that quality, endurance and movements so I don’t decline and be susceptible to all the demands of the game.
Q: On what the last week of rehab went:
Nash: It got me back on the court. I went from not being able to practice to being able to practice. I made a lot of improvements.
Q: On the plan moving forward from today:
Nash: I don’t know if I can give you the actual minutes, but definitely it was great to get up and down for 10 minutes. Hopefully (it’s) more tomorrow – whatever that is – without setbacks in the morning or the next day. I’ll just keep progressing. It’s unfortunate. It’s a tricky situation because I think typically you say: ‘I practice 10 today, if I practice 20 tomorrow and 30 on Thursday, I play on Friday.’ I think right now, there’s still some other subjective tests to make sure this is sustainable and not something that is not as tenuous as it has been recently where you feel good enough to play, but you play and it just deteriorates. It takes a lot of resolve to continue on that path everyday to try and really lighten things and strengthen and give yourself a chance.
Q: On if it’s out of the realm of possibility he’ll suit up Friday at Sacramento:
Nash: I don’t know if it’s out of the realm, but I’d say it’s very unlikely and very doubtful.
Q: On if there’s added pressure to return with Farmar out for four weeks:
Nash: For one, you want to be out there and two, the more games you miss, the longer you’re off the court, the farther it feels from the game. You lose your touch, your conditioning and your rhythm. Still, with all the injuries I faced and played with throughout the preseason and season, I still haven’t felt in touch with my game yet. It’s tough.
Q: On if he will consider coming off the bench for the team:
Nash: I’ll do whatever I can do to help the team, but the first thing is I have to be in a position where I can sustain the demands of the game. Right now, my back is susceptible to those things and right now until I can get moving in a way consistently and able to thrive under the demands rather than be affected so greatly as it has been the last three or four weeks, that’s step one.
Q: On if he feels better now than he did at the start of training camp:
Nash: No, I’m not in any great position right now. I’m better, but I’m not sitting here saying I feel phenomenal. I feel better, and I’m moving and trending in the right direction.
Q: On if he kept in touch with any of the guys while away:
Nash: I watched everything. I texted back and forth with the staff, talked to Gary (Vitti) a couple times, but I didn’t really talk to them. I was in the gym twice a day and usually they were on the court when I was going home. It was tough to be so far away.