Sources: Nerve irritation root of Steve Nash's slow return to Lakers

Steve Nash's delayed return to the Los Angeles Lakers has more to do with nerve irritation in his lower left leg than the fracture he suffered, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Nash appeared set to return from a non-displaced fractured left fibula about three to four weeks ago. His fibula has healed well, but what caused the setback was a nerve irritation that surfaced in the leg during his rehabilitation, sources said. The nerve caused Nash pain any time he put pressure on it.

The irritation is steadily improving for Nash and he is expected to play before the end of the month, sources said.

Nash suffered the broken fibula on Nov. 1 against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Lakers originally thought the injury was just a bone bruise, but an MRI showed worse.

[Related: Jason Kidd sports a hockey helmet]

Nash can run and has been doing dribbling and conditioning drills in hopes of maintaining his conditioning. The 38-year-old, however, hasn't been cleared to fully participate in practice.

Nash has missed 19 of the Lakers' 21 games. The Lakers are also without backup point guard Steve Blake due to an abdominal injury.

More NBA coverage from Yahoo! Sports:

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
Keeping Joe Flacco happy meant Ravens had to dump OC Cam Cameron
Western Kentucky hires Bobby Petrino and all of his baggage
School president will shave head if Cincinnati beats Marshall on Saturday
Y! Finance: Nine beers on the decline in America