The Lakers scheduled practice for Monday, despite returning Sunday from a long, seven-game road trip, with hopes of getting Steve Nash back on the practice floor.
Out for all but six games this season, battling through nerve root irritation in his back (that also caused hamstring issues), Nash was a late scratch on Monday after a new, minor back injury.
"Everything went well for him in Vancouver while he was up there, while we were on the 12-day road trip," said Lakers spokesman John Black. "He was on board to have a practice before he comes back and plays. It was sort of a freakish thing, he tweaked his back today, not related [to the nerve issue]."
Nash said he isn't worried about the minor setback.
"I'm fine," said Nash, who felt something in his back when he got out of bed Monday morning.
"I have no idea what's going to happen but I've done all the work and I feel ready to practice again," he continued, speaking briefly outside of the team's practice facility in El Segundo.
"The plan for him is to have a practice on Thursday and then he's basically day to day," said Black. "We'll update you on whether he'll play Friday based on how Thursday's practice goes."
The Lakers play the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night, then get a visit from the Washington Wizards on Friday.
"I'm really excited, just to be part of the team again," said Nash, at the prospect of his long-awaited return.
Injuries in the backcourt have derailed the season, with Kobe Bryant (knee, Achilles' tendon), Steve Blake (elbow), Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and Xavier Henry (knee) all missing extended stretches of games. The Lakers are just 16-29, barely in 13th place in the Western Conference.
If Nash is unable to play in 10 games this year and a doctor rules that he is medically unable to continue his career (forced retirement), his full $9.7-million salary for the 2014-15 season comes off the team's books before the summer.
Nonetheless, Nash has spent months rehabbing with hopes of continuing his career.
If his return is unsuccessful after playing 10 games, and there's a medical retirement later in the season, his 2014-15 salary will remain on the Lakers' cap for a full year from his last game played -- which would reduce the team's flexibility over the summer.
A three-game trial for Nash won't affect the Lakers financially, but any longer, with an unsuccessful result, would take away some of the team's spending power in July.
An NBA-assigned doctor would need to sign off on a medical retirement. Nash would receive his full salary in either case.
Nash certainly isn't ready to call it a career. If he can get through practice this week, he could be back on the floor as early as Friday.
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