Mike D’Antoni says he “doubts” Steve Nash plays again this season, but wouldn’t rule him out
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 3, 2014
It also looks like D’Antoni hasn’t spent any time wondering about whether Kobe Bryant will return to the court this season.
Kobe’s return this season looks less likely. D’Antoni: “The doctors haven’t cleared Kobe so it’s a non-issue right now.” Only 6 weeks left.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) March 3, 2014
It should come as no surprise to fans of the Lakers that both Bryant and Nash are long shots to return to the court this season. Nash has been limited to 10 games this season after missing almost half of last season. Nash has openly questioned his ability to stay healthy and perform at a high level for an extended part of the season and has filmed a documentary, named “The Finish Line” to chronicle his experience. The documentary, which is on Grantland.com, is worth a watch and will make you appreciate how much work Nash is putting into a potentially fruitless return.
Bryant, who has only played in 6 games this year, is still rehabbing his Achilles injury from last year and is also recovering from a fractured bone in his knee. According to team doctors, Kobe was suppose to return in 4-6 weeks after the knee injury; however, multiple setbacks have cost Bryant most of the season and with nothing left to play for in 2014 it would make sense for the Lakers to rest their star player so that he may be able to perform at full strength come next season.
Both players are clearly already looking forward to the 2014-15 season and have little interest in discussing what has happened this year. Kobe has made it clear that his only objective for the 2014-15 season is to get revenge for this season and once again bring the Lakers to the promise land, which is what he has promised every single season he’s been in LA. Kobe said the following about this season:
“This year, we all know it’s been a real tough year for us right?” Bryant said. “So what I’d like everybody to do is to really just sit back and just absorb this year. Take it all in. Sit back and watch and listen and hear all the hate that’s being thrown at us and remember every person that’s kicking you when you’re down because next year it ain’t gonna be this way. Appreciate it now. Let it sit in now, because revenge is sweet and it’s quick.”
There is no quote that is more Kobe than that. Embrace the hate, let it fuel you and then focus on revenge. Perfect.
Steve Nash, on the other hand, may not be playing basketball in the 2014-15 season. The Lakers owe Nash $9M for next season; however, the team will clearly consider using the stretch provision, which would allow them to pay Nash $3M each year for the next three years. By paying Nash $3M for the next three years instead of $9M for next season, the Lakers would be clearing $6M in cap space for the 2014-15 season and would leave Nash without a job. Nash has said he in unlikely to play anywhere else in the NBA outside of Los Angeles because he does not want to move his children again. That would leave the Los Angeles Clippers as the only team Nash would play with and that’s probably an avenue the Clippers won’t explore.