Steve Nash still hopes he can be a healthy contributor for Lakers

Steve Nash still hopes he can be a healthy contributor for Lakers
Steve Nash talks with Coach Mike D'Antoni during the Lakers' game against Utah on Feb. 11. (Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)

Steve Nash visited with General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Coach Mike D'Antoni at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo on Thursday for his exit meeting after a disappointing 2013-14 season.

The veteran point guard hopes to be back next season to finish out the final year on his contract.


"I think I proved that I can still play.  It's just a matter of sustaining it," said Nash.

Nash struggled with a chronic issues in his back, hamstring and knee -- a nerve root irritation that limited the 40-year old point guard to 15 games.

"It took me five months to sprint last summer," said Nash, who has been dealing with the same issues since breaking his knee in the second game of the 2012-13 season.  "It was late August or probably September before I could sprint full out.  I'm hoping we're talking about the next three or four weeks to get back to that place, instead of five months."

Despite how difficult it's been for Nash to stay on the court, at no time along the way has a doctor recommended he retire.

"No, which is reassuring," he said.  "I don't know it's a big threat [to life after basketball].

"If I don't have to match 22-year-olds up and down the court, jump on an airplane between every game, I think I could fare quite well at the local pickup game. As far as like playing with my kids, and being active after my career,  I don't think that's in jeopardy."

Nash will earn $9.7 million next season.  It's unclear whether the Lakers will retain him, or waive and stretch his salary out over three seasons at $3.2 million a year.

Based on his meeting Thursday with Kupchak, Nash isn't entirely sure, but he expects to be back with the team next season.

His time with the Lakers hasn't gone as well as he expected after signing a three-year deal in 2012.

"We've hit the bottom.  We had championship aspirations and nothing's gone right," said Nash.  "It's obviously been a disaster individually and collectively."

If the Lakers do retain him, Nash hopes to contribute both on the floor and in mentoring any young guards the Lakers night bring in through the draft or free agency.

"Regardless, I want to contribute.  I would love to play 82 games next year," said Nash.  "Whether I play or don't play, I'd love to be here for the young guys and be a sounding board."

Nash gave flashes of his old self, recently hitting a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists in just 22 minutes in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

The difficulty he's faced is sustaining health game-to-game, through the rigors of an NBA schedule.

"My situation is just a lot of mileage, and you have a whole bunch of bulging disks," said Nash.  "I'm not even sure the doc knows exactly why it's presenting the way it is."

The Lakers struggled as a team with injury, finishing with a 27-55 record, the sixth-worst in the NBA.


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