With just 23 games left in the Los Angeles Lakers’ season, chances are growing slimmer that injured veteran guards Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash will return to play this season.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said Monday that Bryant hasn’t yet been medically cleared to play, and Nash is still dealing with soreness from chronic back problems.
“The doctors haven’t cleared Kobe, so it’s a non-issue right now,” D’Antoni said, via the Los Angeles Times. “The thing is, does he get back and play some games to get his rhythm back for next year or just wait? So I don’t know.”
D’Antoni said it will take about 40 games to evaluate how Bryant will fit into the mix with his current teammates — the majority of which are young players on the last year of their contracts — and the Lakers coach said he doesn’t see advantages to Bryant playing right now. Bryant played six games for the Lakers this season and has been out since December with a fractured knee.
Nash has played in 10 games this season, and D’Antoni didn’t sound any more hopeful for his return.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” D’Antoni said. “What’s the endgame? We’ve talked about it. He’s not completely healthy. We have 23 games left. We’re not going to make the playoffs. So what’s his objective in taking minutes away from the young guys that we’re trying to develop?”
Nash, who turned 40 last month, has expressed interest in returning to the Lakers next season.
Nash is under contract for $9.7 million next season, but it’s possible he could get a medical retirement from the NBA.