- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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Nash exited the Lakers' 92-86 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday with 5:00 remaining in the third quarter and did not return because of nerve irritation in his left leg and tightness in his back stemming from contact with Chicago's Kirk Hinrich.
"It's a little irritated, the nerve, but I'm hoping I can be better tomorrow and can play," said Nash, who is averaging 11.3 points and 5.3 assists in 24.7 minutes over three games since returning from nerve root irritation in his back and hamstrings that sidelined him for nearly three months.
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said it was encouraging that the 40-year-old Nash could recover so quickly after experiencing nerve discomfort after he was hit in almost the exact same spot in his left leg where he suffered a fracture last season.
"You know that he's going to go through things like that, until he gets his footing, until he can play regular minutes and get his body right," D'Antoni said. "But it's good that he can bounce back."
Nash admitted that he does not expect to go injury free for the rest of the season, but he can learn to navigate the setbacks.
"I would say it's probably going to flare up from time to time," Nash said. "I don't know if I'll ever [get over it]. I'll probably deal with this for the rest of my life in some way."
How much longer will Nash spend playing in the NBA? The 18-year veteran is set to make $9.7 million in his final year of his contract with the Lakers next season. However, the team can waive Nash via the stretch provision and only owe about $3.2 million a year for the next three years against the salary cap.
"Not yet," Nash said when asked if he has thought about retirement. "We'll see. But I still enjoy being back there on the court so much that this [nerve irritation] is nothing compared to that feeling of being one of the guys and being on the team and trying to win games. So, it's still well worth it to me."
D'Antoni said he has not broached the subject with his point guard that he first started coaching a decade ago in Phoenix.
"I think it's too early for him," D'Antoni said. "He'll have to decide that. He'll feel it in his heart and his head and I'm sure he's getting good advice. Right now we're just trying to get to the next game and play well."
Added Nash: "Just work as hard as I can every day to perform and just going every day until I'm not playing anymore. Right now, I have no intentions to stop playing."
While Nash hopes to play in the Lakers' remaining two games before the All-Star break, the Lakers hope to get back their five remaining injured players -- Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Xavier Henry, Jordan Farmar and Jodie Meeks -- just after it.
"After the All-Star break, there's a chance that everybody could be well," D'Antoni said. "We'll see."
Farmar (left hamstring) participated in shooting drills Monday, making 10 straight 3s from the left wing to finish off practice for the day. Henry (bone bruise in his right knee) underwent agility exercises with Lakers strength and conditioning coach, Tim DiFrancesco. Meeks is expected to recover from a right ankle sprain by next week.
Gasol (strained right groin) worked out on the elliptical machine. And Bryant, who reiterated his intention to return this season on Sunday, continues to rehabilitate the fracture in his left knee that's kept him sidelined since Dec. 17.
"He's been around," D'Antoni said of Bryant. "It's been good."