Kobe Bryant's return might come sooner than initially expected. (Robyn Beck/Getty Images)
Lakers guards Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash will be re-evaluated next week when the team returns to Los Angeles, according to Mike Trudell's injury report on NBA.com. The Lakers begin a three-game road trip on Thursday that concludes with a game in New York against the New York Knicks on Jan. 26.
Nash hasn't played since logging 13 minutes on Nov. 10 in a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He's been dealing with injuries to his back and hamstring all season -- and for the past few seasons -- as well as a host of nerve root issues that have become a bigger problem for him lately. At one point in November, it was rumored that Nash, who turns 40 next month, was considering mid-season retirement.
Bryant will likely meet with doctors on either Jan. 27 or 28, according to the report, in order to reassess his rehab and to perhaps give an updated timetable for his return to the court. He had previously said that he would get an MRI in February, so his meetings next week could signal a return that's slightly ahead of schedule.
Bryant and the Lakers have been mum on his return as he looks to come back for the second time this season; the 35-year-old five-time NBA champion suffered a season-ending Achilles injury last April. He returned from that setback this past December and played six games, but he subsequently fractured his lateral tibial plateau in his left knee on Dec. 17 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Lakers are 16-26 heading into Thursday's matchup on the road against the Miami Heat.