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Lakers’ Bryant, Nash may not return this season

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Los Angeles Lakers veteran guards Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are unlikely to return to play this season, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said Monday that Bryant has not been medically cleared and Nash continues feeling soreness from chronic back problems.

The Lakers (20-39) have only 23 games left in their season. Nash has played in only 10 games this season and Bryant just six.

The 35-year-old Bryant has been out since Dec. 17 with a fracture left knee.

“The doctors haven’t cleared Kobe so it’s a non-issue right now,” D’Antoni said. “The thing is, does he get back and play some games to get his rhythm back for next year or just wait? So I don’t know.”

D’Antoni does not see any advantages in Bryant trying to play this season.

“Not really,” he said. “That’s not on me. That’s something that they’ve got to figure out.”

D’Antoni also did not sound hopeful for Nash, who turned 40 last month,

“I don’t know what to tell you,” D’Antoni said. “What’s the endgame? We’ve talked about it. He’s not completely healthy. We have 23 games left. We’re not going to make the playoffs. So what’s his objective in taking minutes away from the young guys that we’re trying to develop?

“Now, if Steve starts to feel better, then we’ll see. It’s always an ongoing process in talking to him, but it’s not something that’s on the horizon right now.”

Nash was noncommittal about his chances of playing again this season, according to

“We’ll see,” he said. “I couldn’t really make a prediction. If I get the chance, it would be great.”

Nash has missed the Lakers’ last seven games after returning from nerve root irritation to play a four-game stint in early February. During his comeback, he collided with Chicago Bulls’ Kirk Hinrich, with the point of impact occurring in nearly the same spot on his left leg where he suffered a fracture last season.

“That knee to (his leg), that was crazy,” Nash said. “It just flared everything up. But it’s subsiding and I’m kind of working through it and coming back to where I was.”

Nash said he wants to return next season where he is under contract for $9.7 million.

“I want to come back for sure,” Nash said. “You never know what the case is in a month or a week or two weeks, physically, from a club standpoint, from my standpoint. You’re looking at potentially the last few months of my career. I didn’t want to just let that slide by without getting back on the court, so it motivated me. But who knows now?”