Shoulder sidelines Nash for Sunday's All-Star Game
"Steve's just not ready to play right now. He needs the recovery and rehab time," coach Mike D'Antoni said in a statement released by the team. "He hasn't recovered as quickly as we anticipated. Hopefully, he'll be able to resume play after the All-Star break."
Withdrawing from the annual Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday as well as Sunday's game thus gives Nash two full weeks away from game conditions before the Suns play again Feb. 20 in a road date against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Nash, though, will be in Las Vegas alongside fellow Western Conference injury victims Yao Ming and Carlos Boozer. League rules stipulate that All-Stars must be in attendance throughout All-Star Weekend even if they are injured and require ongoing rehab treatments.
Nash's replacement on the West roster will be selected by NBA commissioner David Stern. A replacement for Nash will also be required for the four-man skills event that would have pit him against Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Stern has already chosen Denver's Carmelo Anthony and Dallas' Josh Howard to replace Yao and Boozer on the West squad, but it's believed that two members from the Jazz -- center Mehmet Okur and guard Deron Williams -- will receive strong consideration to take Nash's spot. Boozer's leg injury has left Utah without an active presence in the All-Star Game even though the Jazz awoke Monday morning with the league's third-best record at 33-17.
Nash told ESPN's Jim Gray during Sunday's broadcast of the Suns' home loss to the Bulls that the mysterious shoulder pain -- which first began troubling him on the morning of Feb. 1 -- is likely related to his chronic back trouble.
Nash's unavailability increases the likelihood that D'Antoni, who's coaching the West, will select Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki to start Sunday in place of Yao. Yet it's believed that D'Antoni was leaning toward starting Nowitzki regardless, which would have enabled him to sub all three of the Suns' All-Stars -- Nash, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire -- into the game at the same time.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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