HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Raise your hand if you thought you’d see Ricky Rubio and Derrick Rose on the practice court before Steve Nash returned from the broken left fibula he suffered Nov. 1.
Didn’t think so.
There is an explanation for why two guys who suffered ACL injuries last season could be back in the mix at practice for their respective teams — the Wolves for Rubio and the Bulls for Rose — before the Los Angeles Lakers get the trigger man for Mike D’Antoni‘s offense back in their mix.
Nash’s fibula has healed properly, according to a Yahoo! Sports report from our main man Marc J. Spears. But there’s a nerve irritation, something that flared up during the rehabilitation process, that is causing him problems and delaying his return to the Lakers’ lineup.
If Nash has pain every time he puts any pressure on his leg, that would explain him missing 19 of the Lakers’ first 21 games and a few more. It also explains why Nash, 38, will have other hurdles to clear before he gets back to playing the way we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing him play the past few seasons.
The end of the month even seems a bit optimistic for a return to 100 percent capacity, provided that’s a realistic goal at all for a player his age who misses such a huge chunk of the season.
D’Antoni has spoken glowingly of his star point guard, playfully suggesting at one point that Nash will be able to solve many of the Lakers’ most glaring issues in 90 minutes or less. That’s either supreme confidence or plain foolish pride seeping out of the coach of a team that stands 9-12 heading into tonight’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Nash’s seems to be focused first and foremost on getting himself healthy and in shape before moving onto the larger problems of helping heal these Lakers, as he made clear to David Leon Moore of USA Today:
“I think it will be at least another two weeks,” Nash said. “I can move. I can shoot. I just can’t run full speed. And I’m not even in shape. I’ll probably need at least a week of practice once I start running.”
“I hope I can make a difference,” Nash says. “I think the team is close to doing well on their own. It’s hard. It’s like a second training camp. The guys haven’t had a lot of time to practice under Mike.
“We really haven’t had a chance to play together in a new system, and we’re trying to fight through that.”
Nash says when he watches the team, what he thinks is missing most is “just time together. It’s been a really difficult truncated season.”
With the losses mounting – four in the past five games, including the two most recent home games (against Orlando and Utah) – will there be enough time to turn things around when Nash returns?
“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Nash says. “I think anything is possible with this team. If we stick together and work hard, I think the sky’s the limit. But we’ve got a tall task ahead of us.”
Anything is possible with this team. They’ve already done the unthinkable by playing sub-.500 basketball thus far. Keep this up for another two weeks and they’ll have finished the first third of the season upside down, something no one expected from a team picked by many to be the class of the Western Conference and even the league when Nash and Dwight Howard were added to the superstar mix of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
But that was months, two coaches and two other point guards (Steve Blake, who is out for six to eight weeks after surgery to repair an abdominal injury, veteran Chris Duhon and youngster Darius Morris, who are doing their best to hold things down in the meantime) ago.
The Lakers have at least two weeks to see if they can’t fix some of their busted pipes without Nash.
Where they go from there is anyone’s guess …