By Rob Mahoney
If all goes according to plan, the Lakers' season begins anew on Saturday. According to an initial report from Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, Steve Nash -- who is due for a series of workouts throughout the week with L.A. having an unusually light game schedule -- intends to suit up for the Lakers' Saturday game against the Warriors. That report was later confirmed by Sam Amick of USA Today, who also noted that Pau Gasol is likely to play in Tuesday's game against the Bobcats provided that all goes well at shootaround. That would give Los Angeles its full starting lineup for the first time since Oct. 31st -- a time when the very idea of a coaching change was woefully premature, the Princeton offense itself was under fire and Jodie Meeks was half-buried on the Lakers' bench.
Having a full cast of star players won't fix L.A.'s defensive shortcomings overnight, but it would undoubtedly go a long way in terms of getting a fraying team back on the same page. Nash won't have the dominant voice in the Lakers' locker room so long as Kobe Bryant is around, yet his influence both on and off the court is a calming one, particularly when paired with the principles that form the basis of Mike D'Antoni's offensive systems. He'll help this team in ways we can't necessarily predict, as the precise benefits of his game tend to come in the subtlest ways. Nash will still be on the mend and the Lakers will still be a sub-.500 team, but better health should give L.A. a chance to make up for its early woes and the built-in limitations of a shallow roster.