LA Lakers Think Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash Will Return Jan. 28

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2014

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It seems optimistic, curiously specific and not at all scientific, but the Los Angeles Lakers have a target date for the return of their starting backcourt.

At least, that's the story that coach Mike D'Antoni is selling:

Any sort of positive update on Steve Nasheven if this seems more rooted in hope than facthas to be a welcome sign. The 39-year-old has been out since Nov. 10 due to nerve damage in his back. Previous updates on his condition have only delayed his possible return date.

As for Kobe Bryant, Jan. 28 would be exactly six weeks since his last appearance. He missed L.A.'s first 19 games while recovering from the torn Achilles that ended his 2012-13 campaign, then suffered a fracture in his left knee just six games into his return.

Nash and Bryant are the headliners, but this entire roster has been ripped apart by injury.

Kendall Marshall, who started the month of December with the D-League's Delaware 87ers, is the sixth different starting point guard the Lakers have had this season.

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 8:  Kendall Marshall #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives against the Houston Rockets on January 8, 2014 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using t
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"That’s the one good thing, it can’t happen to us again because we’ve got them all out," D'Antoni said of the team's point guard injuries, via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

If Bryant and Nash are able to give it a go on the 28th, one can only hope their bodies are fully ready for the return.

The Lakers have lost nine of their last 10 gamesa relative knockout blow in the jam-packed Western Conference. As's Joe Kaiser (subscription required) noted, "with the trade deadline looming there's a good chance they will become sellers."

There's no reason for them to rush

Plus, it's not as if this is an ideal matchup for two players aging players trying to shake off some rust. If the Indiana Pacers (28-7) aren't the best team overall, they're at least the best defensive club in the league (93.3 points allowed per 100 possessions).

Bryant and Nash would undoubtedly add some excitement to Lakers nation when they're ready to go.

But hope won't be coming before next season. Right now, this franchise needs to do whatever it can to make sure these two aging stars can make it that far.