Steve Nash in Friday's lineup
The Forum: Can Lakers Count On Nash?
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Steve Nash will likely play in his last game of the season -- and possibly his career -- on Friday against the Dallas Mavericks, the team he played for when he became a star in the NBA.
The Los Angeles Lakers are officially listing Nash as probable against the Mavs, and the 18-year veteran said he would be a game-time decision based on how the nerve irritation in his back and hamstrings is feeling.
Nash, who has played in just 13 of the Lakers' 75 games, said Sunday's early start (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) against the Los Angeles Clippers would preclude him from suiting up. After that, Jordan Farmar is scheduled to return from a right groin strain Tuesday against the Houston Rockets, at which point Nash would pull himself from the lineup to allow Farmar and Kendall Marshall to play out the final five games without a logjam at point guard.
"If Jordan's coming back Tuesday, that's probably it for me," Nash said. "This could be it tonight. We'll see, though. You never know what happens over these last five or six games."
While Nash will likely play, the Lakers -- as has been the case all season -- had other injuries to report.
Pau Gasol, who has missed five of the Lakers' past six games because of symptoms associated with a bout of vertigo, will not play against Dallas. If Gasol, a pending free agent come July 1, is unable to return to the lineup before the season ends April 16 in San Antonio, he may have played his last game as a Laker as well.
"I have no idea," coach Mike D'Antoni said when asked if Gasol would play again this season. "I'm not an expert on vertigo, so I can't tell you. I've never really had that before ... I guess it will be day to day until I hear something different."
Gasol addressed his status on Twitter on Thursday.
Life reminds us how fragile & vulnerable we are on different occasions. Health is the most important thing. I hope I recover soon my friends- Pau Gasol (@paugasol) April 3, 2014
D'Antoni also said that Xavier Henry, who has missed four of the past seven games because of a torn ligament in his left wrist and a bone bruise in his right knee, will not play again this season. Henry was scheduled to have surgery on his wrist and knee two days after the season, but the team is looking to move up the date for both procedures, according to a league source.
Chris Kaman (strained right calf) is also out against the Mavericks.
With the Lakers (25-50) out of postseason contention, the injury status for their players heading into next season is what matters.
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Nash has one year remaining on his contract, set to pay him $9.7 million. Under the collective bargaining agreement, the Lakers could waive Nash via the stretch provision before the start of training camp next season and have one-third of the $9.7 million owed to him (approximately $3.2 million) counted against the salary cap for the next three seasons.
However, with the summer of 2014 looking less and less to be the free-agent bonanza it was once thought to be, the Lakers would reserve optimum cap flexibility for the sure-to-be-stocked summer of 2015 if they choose not to waive Nash and just allow his salary to come off the books after next season. Nash repeatedly has said he has no intention to retire and received public backlash for acknowledging on the third episode of his Grantland.com documentary series "The Finish Line" that the money remaining on his deal is a major motivating factor for him to return for a 19th season.
The two-time league MVP has averaged 7.3 points and 5.7 assists this season while shooting just 37.1 percent from the floor and 30.4 percent from 3-point range -- well below his career marks of 14.3 points, 8.5 assists, 49 percent shooting and 42.8 percent from deep.
The 40-year-old Nash, the oldest active player in the league, said he will be able to spend the offseason training for one last go of it, as compared to last summer when he was unable to even sprint until late August.
"I'll probably play more basketball," Nash said. "I couldn't play basketball until September last year, so hopefully I can play a little more and we'll see. I have no idea how my body will respond, but I'm going to give it a shot.
"I don't know what will happen, if I'm honest, but I'm as optimistic as ever."
Nash, one of just five players in league history with more than 10,000 assists, is 12 assists shy of passing Mark Jackson for No. 3 on the all-time list. Other than Jackson, the only players to finish with more assists than Nash's current total were John Stockton (15,806) and Jason Kidd (12,091).
"They are two of the greatest point guards to ever play," Nash said of Stockton and Kidd. "I got to play against both of them and they're two guys that I look up to. So it's great to be on a list with all these great players, and I feel fortunate that I've been able to play as long as I have."