Steve Nash couldn't finish the season because of injuries. But the Lakers guard thinks he knows where Dwight Howard should start next season. "I'm very hopeful that Dwight will be back," Nash said Monday. "I think this is the place for him. He's in the prime of his career. He's got his best years ahead of him. He can play for one of the greatest franchises in sports and an amazing city. This has got to be the place for him and I'm hopeful that he sees it that way." Howard, 27, becomes a free agent in July, able to sign a five-year, $118-million deal with the Lakers or a four-year, $88-million deal with someone else. Nash, 39, will almost surely return to the Lakers after an injury-riddled season in which he missed 24 games because of a fractured leg and 10 more because of hip and hamstring soreness. He had four epidural shots in his back this month because of preexisting nerve issues that caused pain in his hip and weakness in his hamstring. He also had a cortisone shot in the hip. "It's definitely been the most frustrating year of my career, not only with so many expectations to start but just physically not being able to play as much as I like or to go and have the impact that I planned on having this year," Nash said.