LOS ANGELES – Is 40-year-old Steve Nash confident he will be ready for the Los Angeles Lakers' training camp? Or might his beaten body have a different opinion?
"That's a good question," Nash said. "I think in my mind, yeah, I will be in camp. Who knows? I don't take anything for granted nowadays. I want to work as hard as I can to put myself in a position to compete, succeed and sustain it. At the same time, I got to prove it to myself every day."
Nash had chronic issues in his back, along with hamstring and knee problems this season. The two-time NBA MVP played in a career-low 15 games, averaging just 6.8 points and 5.7 assists. The 18-year NBA veteran also missed 32 games in his first season with the Lakers.
Nash arrived in Los Angeles thinking he would chase championships with Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. Howard, however, left after last season and the Lakers had just a miserable 27 wins this season.
"We've hit the bottom," Nash said. "We had championship aspirations and nothing's gone right. It's obviously been a disaster individually and collectively."
Nash said he expects to be healthy in about three to four weeks. He said he had fun when he played this season and wants to continue to play, though he's also fine with a lesser role mentoring young guards. He expects next season to be his last.
"They can't rely on me, frankly," Nash said. "Hopefully, I come back and play 82 games next year and the sky is the limit. But they can't rely on me if they don't know what I'm going to bring, so they got to evaluate those guys for next season."
Nash knows he could be limited next season, but he refuses to feel guilty about the $9.7 million the Lakers owe him for the final season of his contract. It's uncertain if the Lakers are considering keeping him or waiving him with an opportunity to stretch his salary out at $3.2 million per year over three seasons. Nash said he didn't get any reason to think he wouldn't be returning from Thursday's meeting with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.
"We fight in the collective bargaining to keep guaranteed contracts," Nash said. "I broke my leg playing for this team. My body has never been the same. Frankly, I would be lying if I didn't say that I feel like that's my end of the deal. We signed these contracts before.
"Maybe it would be a better business if we got paid on what you actually accomplished, but that's not the business we're in. And, frankly, I probably would have made a lot more money if I got paid afterwards instead of before in my career. It's just a part of it. It's a business. It's just crass to sit here and talk about money when I make more money than 99 percent of the people in the world. But that's my life and that's reality."