Los Angeles Lakers fans received a tough break today regarding the health of point guard Steve Nash. As head coach Mike D'Antoni told Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, there is no timetable for the veteran's return from a fracture in his leg.
"The other Steve is coming along," D'Antoni said of the two-time league MVP. "I don't think we have a timetable. He feels some nerve endings that are tingling and when they go away, we'll start ramping it up and he'll be fine.
"Whether it's tomorrow or next week or next month, we'll just take our time and he'll eventually be there. As soon as he gets there, I know, give him an hour and a half and he'll have the offense down and running it like a clock. So we can wait on that."
Nash played under D'Antoni for four years in Phoenix, making the coach's fast-paced offense popular. Given the nature of the system, it is absolutely critical that he not appear in a game until he is fully healed.
First, let's get into the specifics of Nash's injury. In the Lakers' game against the Portland Trail Blazers on October 31, he suffered a non-displaced fracture of his left fibula, which is not the worst kind of fracture by any means. In fact, the initial diagnosis was that he would only miss about a week.
This has not been the case, as Nash's leg is still bothering him and he is not yet ready to appear in a game. Aside from the fact that he is 38 years old, he should hold off on playing again until he is at 100 percent for the good of the team.
Keep in mind, D'Antoni's offense calls for the point guard to run the pick and roll quite a bit and also contribute in the scoring department. This is a run-and-gun offense, the key word being run.
Given how Nash's injury is one to his leg, he's not going to be doing himself nor his teammates any favors running on a broken wheel. Besides running up and down the court, he's going to be asked to drive to the hoop every now and again and draw some contact. Yes, he is a feisty player who shows a fearless attitude on the court, but it doesn't make any sense for him to risk re-injuring himself—potentially even worse—if he isn't fully healed.
Were that to happen to Nash, the Lakers could be without a key piece of their offense for an extended period of time, maybe even during the last month or two of the season. This is when it is important for every contending team's key players to be healthy and ready to play harder than ever. If Nash is hurt, he obviously cannot help his teammates in their quest for a championship.
Thus, no matter how much he may want to get back in the lineup, Mike D'Antoni and the rest of his staff must keep Nash on the sidelines until the future Hall of Famer is fully healthy. The point guard is too valuable in this run-and-gun offense to not be going at 100 percent. Nash is one of the best at the position, and thus no exception.
It is better that he miss a few more games and be fully ready to help the Lakers win a championship. If he comes back early and re-injures his leg worse, then he could easily take the Lakers out of title contention once the playoffs draw closer.