There are very few things as painful, from a fan’s perspective, as watching superstars play like role players due to age, injuries, or just plain old stubbornness in not retiring. Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shawn Kemp, and Michael Jordan are just a few of the players that stuck around the game just a tad bit too long. Rather than giving us the feelings of elation that they used to give us, the only feelings they now give us are feelings of sorrow and even pity. Their legacies remain intact, but their immortality does get tarnished slightly.
Some players do stick around the game because they simply love it. Tim Duncan once said that he wants to keep playing until the wheels fall off. And it is hard to blame him. The 38-year-old continues to win rings every few years and retiring prematurely would be something that he would regret if the team has a legitimate chance of winning a championship once again. Furthermore, Duncan is not riding on the coattails of the younger players on the San Antonio Spurs. Duncan is still the best player on the team, even with the emergence of Kawhi Leonard and the continued brilliance of Tony Parker.
However, there are other players that are of a similar age, and even younger, that are not contributing to their teams, but in fact, are hurting their teams by absorbing their salary cap to the point of hurting the team. If it was not for the money, these players would have retired a while ago. But it is hard to blame any of these players for refusing to retire when they can still tap as much money as they can out of their contract. A lot of players go broke even five years out of the league, so, the best way of preventing that from happening is investing and earning as much as you can while you can. The following list is a group of players that should have retired, but continue to play the game, in order to collect every last cent they can.
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10 Jason Richardson
The last time Jason Richardson actually played in a game was back in January 2013. Richardson underwent surgery after his surgically-repaired knee continued to hinder his play, which is really important for a player like Richardson, who predicates his game on athleticism. Obviously, this did not stop the 33-year-old former Slam Dunk Champion from picking up his $6.6 million contract this season. Not that the Philadelphia 76ers even care that much, since they are in tank mode once again this year. Richardson's availability is unknown right now, but he will most likely take on a mentorship role for this very young team.
9 Greg Oden
The former number one pick was someone that everyone was rooting for, but after his recent domestic violence charges, his career may have officially come to an end. Last season, Greg Oden made a valiant effort to come back to the league by joining the Miami Heat. Oden played 23 games in the regular season and averaged 2.9 points per game and 2.3 rebounds per game. He even played in 3 playoff games for the Miami Heat. Last season Oden collected $1.03 million and believe it or not, the 25-year-old has already made $24 million throughout his injury-plagued career.
8 Andrew Bynum
Last season, Andrew Bynum tried to resurrect his career with the Indiana Pacers. The big man played in 26 games and averaged 8.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Bynum occasionally showed some flashes of what he could do, but his knees were ultimately not durable enough for the entire season. Believe it or not, despite playing in only 26 games, Bynum collected $12,250,000 in the 2013-2014 season. It is hard to fault anybody for refusing to retire when they are making this type of money. But it is obvious that Bynum would have retired many years ago, if it was not for the money.
7 Jason Terry
The former 6th Man of the Year is already a NBA Champion, but he still wants to compete for another one. In the past 4 seasons he has played for 5 different teams. Terry has played for the Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings, and, now, the Houston Rockets. At this point in his career, Terry is more like a trading chip to make salary caps work than a real asset that can actually contribute something on the floor. But if he can get hot, he is still one of the streakiest players in the league that can change the tide of a game. However, that is a big if at this point of his career.
6 Nazr Mohammed
The veteran big man won a ring with the San Antonio Spurs as their starting center, but that was many, many years ago. Today, Mohammed is 37-years-old and has slowed down considerably. Additionally, with the acquisition of Pau Gasol, there is virtually no room for any playing time at the center position. However, Mohammed is not ready to retire yet and he continues to play out of his love for the game and the $915,243 he collects each year.
5 Richard Jefferson
At one point in Richard Jefferson’s career, he was a high-flying dunker that could drop 20 points on you any given night. But the small forward is now 34-years-old and his spry legs are no longer as spry as they used to be. Last season, Jefferson averaged 10.1 points per game and 2.7 rebounds per game for the Utah Jazz, who were one of the worst teams in the NBA. This season, he is playing for the Dallas Mavericks, but it will be difficult for him to get any playing time on this stacked veteran team. Jefferson is set to make the veteran’s minimum set at $915,243, but if he can give a solid 15 minutes per game, he might be a great deal.
4 Andre Miller
Believe it or not, Andre Miller will go down as one of the Top-10 point guards in NBA history. The 38 year-old point guard is 9th all-time in assists with a total of 8,153 assists, which is no easy feat. He is also one of the NBA iron men. Miller rarely ever misses a game. Look at his stats and he plays in all 82 games almost every single season. However, last season, Miller only averaged 4.9 points per game and 3.4 assists per game. Even though Miller is serviceable as a backup point guard, at this point in his career, he is playing more for his $4,650,000 that he is set to earn this season than anything else. Miller’s craftiness will only get him so far this year with this new generation of dynamic point guards saturating the league.
3 Kevin Garnett
Even Kevin Garnett was uncertain whether or not he wanted to return this upcoming season. But leaving $12,000,000 on the table was too difficult to turn down. By virtue of his reputation, the 38-year-old will continue to get the respect of the referees, but Garnett’s best days are way behind him. Last season, he averaged 6.5 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game in the 54 games he played for the Brooklyn Nets. Clearly, Garnett is on his last legs and a shell of himself. But he does provide a lot from a leadership and tutelage standpoint, especially for up and coming big man, Mason Plumlee.
2 Amar’e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire is only 31-years-old, but his body is about as strong as a 41-year-olds. The reason why Stoudemire continues to play despite his dramatic drop-off in play the past 3 seasons is because he made over $21 million last season and will make over $23 million this year. Amar’e was one of the highest paid players in the league. Stoudemire did average 11.9 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game last season, but with the minutes restriction that is placed upon him each game, he is really not capable of producing with the same amount of efficiency that he used to when he was with the Suns. If Stoudemire did not have such a hefty contract, the New York Knicks would have either cut him or traded him years ago.
1 Steve Nash
Steve Nash boldly said that his body felt great at the start of this pre-season, but before the pre-season has even finished, Nash has once again asked to sit out the pre-season due to some back problems. Sadly, this has been the narrative of Steve Nash for the past 3 seasons. Nash is clearly trying to get the most out of his broken body right now, but it is obvious that he can’t play the game any more. Nash has only played 65 the past 2 seasons. Yet, he has been paid $27 million for basically providing the services and minutes of a role player at the very end of the bench. Now, that Nash’s contract will be up this year, he said that he will most definitely retire after the 2014-2015 season, but if he was not under contract, there is no doubt that he definitely would have retired 3 seasons ago.
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