There's a place for Nash as Laker

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Before the Los Angeles Lakers boarded their charter flight on Christmas Eve to play the Chicago Bulls the next day, they got a surprise visit at the airport from Steve Nash.

Nash has been away from the team since Oct. 23 when it was announced that he would be sidelined for the season with a back injury. At the time the Lakers said the door was open to Nash staying with the team in some capacity, but he stayed away. That could change soon.

"I think so," Lakers coach Byron Scott said when asked if he thought this was the first step toward Nash returning to the team in some capacity. "I think so."

Scott and Nash didn't talk for almost a month after the point guard was ruled out for the season but have talked since then and Scott said he would like to see Nash come by the Lakers practice facility and be a part of the team if that's something he would like.

The Lakers were granted a $4.85 million disabled player exception by the NBA for Nash, which the Lakers can use to sign or trade for a player. They also were awarded a $1.5 million disabled player exception for rookie Julius Randle, who is out for the season with a broken leg. The two exceptions both expire March 10 and cannot be combined.

Nash, who played only 65 games in two-plus seasons with the Lakers because of injuries, has not announced his retirement but is in the final year of a contract that pays him $9.7 million this season. The Lakers reportedly offered Nash and multiple draft picks to the Boston Celtics for Rajon Rondo before he was eventually dealt to the Dallas Mavericks.

"It was great to see him, first of all, and for all the players to see him," Scott said. "It was a great gesture on his part to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. He still has to deal with the fact that his career might be over. That's still something he's wrestling with. I'm still inviting him to come around here for practice and to join in and just be a part of the team and part the coaching staff. That's something that he has to deal with and when he wants to and he feels he's able to do that, whatever time that might be, he'll be welcome with open arms."

When Scott was asked if three months wasn't enough time for Nash decide, he smiled and said, "It depends on the person. Obviously for Steve it's not."