Kobe, Nash long shots to return to Lakers this season
MAR 03, 2014 4:35p ET
Bryant has still not been medically cleared, Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said Monday, and Nash continues feeling soreness from chronic back problems.
The Lakers (20-39) have only six weeks left in their season. Nash has played 10 games, and Bryant has played six.
Bryant hasn't played since December because of a fractured knee. He has not been on any recent Lakers' road trips, though he joined them in Portland, where the Lakers were set to play Monday night.
Don't read anything into it, though. It's more for Nike reasons than anything. The headquarters of the sneaker giant and major Bryant endorser are in nearby Beaverton.
"The doctors haven't cleared Kobe so it's a non-issue right now," D'Antoni said. "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."
Does D'Antoni see advantages in Bryant trying to play?
"Not really," he said, adding quickly. "That's not on me. That's something that they've got to figure out."
Interestingly, D'Antoni said it would take about 40 games to evaluate how Bryant fit into the mix with his current teammates, a majority of whom are young players in the last years of their contracts.
But the Lakers have only 23 games left.
As for Nash, who turned 40 last month, D'Antoni didn't sound hopeful.
"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?
"Now, if Steve starts to feel better, then we'll see. It's always an ongoing process in talking to him, but it's not something that's on the horizon right now."
Nash said there were "a lot of factors" determining whether he returned this season. He clearly wants to return next season, where he is under contract for $9.7 million.
"I want to come back for sure," Nash said. "You never know what the case is in a month or a week or two weeks, physically, from a club standpoint, from my standpoint. You're looking at potentially the last few months of my career. I didn't want to just let that slide by without getting back on the court, so it motivated me. But who knows now?"
The Lakers have until Sept. 1 to determine whether to waive Nash via the "stretch provision," in which his salary is spread out over the next three years.
There's also a small chance Nash can obtain a medical retirement from the NBA, in which case the Lakers still have to pay him but his salary does not count toward the cap.
He did some light shooting the last few days but ruled out practicing with the team this week. If he returns this season, Nash says he wouldn't mind being a backup. Kendall Marshall and Jordan Farmar have split time at point guard in recent games.
"I'm totally up to whatever they want to do," Nash said.