MINNEAPOLIS -- After previously being ruled out for the remainder of the regular season by his coach and defying that prediction to come back and play in two of the Los Angeles Lakers’ past five games, Steve Nash acknowledged after Friday’s 143-107 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves that his season indeed could be finished.
“Frankly, I don’t know if I’ll play again or if I’ll play every game [the rest] of the year,” Nash said after putting up four points, six assists and two turnovers in 15 minutes against the Wolves. “I think the bottom line right now is this is a situation where I want to play; that’s the only reason I played tonight.
“But I also want to go into this summer healthy.”
Nash, 40, is the oldest active player in the league. He has one year remaining on his contract with the Lakers, set to pay him $9.7 million for what would be his 19th season in the NBA.
The former two-time league MVP has played in just 12 of the Lakers’ 72 games this season, missing extensive time because of nerve root irritation in his back and hamstrings stemming from the broken left leg he suffered at the beginning of last season.
Nash is averaging 7.4 points and 5.3 assists this season while shooting a career-low 36.7 percent from the field.
The Lakers (24-48) have 10 games remaining this season and on Sunday will host Nash’s former team in the Phoenix Suns.
Nash said Thursday he did not plan to play on the Lakers’ two-game road trip through Milwaukee and Minneapolis, but he reconsidered before the Timberwolves game.
“I kind of weighed it all up,” Nash said. “You know, this might be my last little window to play -- one. I felt decent -- two. And then also a back-to-back with guys out, injured, I thought it would be a perfect time for me to give it a shot.”
Other than Nash, the Lakers had just one healthy point guard, Kendall Marshall, on the roster on Friday. Jordan Farmar missed his fifth straight game with a strained right groin, and Xavier Henry, who had been playing out of position at backup point guard to fill in, was out with a sore right knee.
Nash said he made it through the unplanned game action without a hitch.
“It wasn’t bad,” Nash said. “I actually felt like I was moving pretty well, even though there was some pain. And the fact that it didn’t go downhill was positive. But, yeah, it was OK. Mike [D’Antoni] was good. He didn’t give me [a heavy workload]. He was cautious with me, which was nice, to keep me on the court.”
D’Antoni, who started Nash in the second half over Marshall, explained his decision to keep Nash on a short leash.
“He wanted to play some more,” D’Antoni said. “But I said, ‘Look, you feel great. You may as [well] quit now. I feel bad taking you out.’ Hopefully he can build on this.”
Nash was unsure if he would be able to play Sunday. He expects to base the decision on how his body will respond to the long flight from Minneapolis back to L.A.
Meanwhile, Farmar is scheduled to be re-evaluated over the weekend and if cleared could be back in the lineup later in the week. After the Suns on Sunday, the Lakers continue with a home game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, the second night of a back-to-back in Sacramento on Wednesday and again at home against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.
“I think I have to be really conservative and cautious to give myself a chance to come back next year and see what my options are to have as big an impact, and have as big a chance to have an impact as possible,” Nash said. “So, you might not see me the rest of the year, or I might get a chance to play a bunch.
“But with Jordan coming back and the state of the team, it’s totally in flux. We’ll just see. I think the most important thing, like I said, is for me to start the offseason somewhat healthy and for these guys to play as much as they can. They’re free agents, and I think the club needs to take a look, as well.”