The NBA is currently booming with new stars becoming household names. Unfortunately, the addition of young players entering the league means some of the talent losing a step or two will be forced to leave the NBA sooner than later. Each team is trying to put together a Superstar core of young players as the only way to compete with the Golden State Warriors. Veterans will usually end up on contending teams to add bench depth or on rebuilding team to add leadership. However, there comes a time where the presence doesn’t give enough to warrant wasting a roster spot on someone that can’t contribute.
We'll look at each NBA team right now when it comes to players that shouldn’t be in the league anymore. Most players are veterans past their prime that need to realize they’d be better off retiring. Others are guys that just can’t compete with the talent level in the NBA and are better suited for an overseas league or the G-League to develop. Find out which player on your team needs to make new plans for their basketball career. These are the players on every NBA team that should get off the court and retire already.
30 Atlanta Hawks: Miles Plumlee
The Atlanta Hawks could be considered the worst team in the NBA today during their rebuilding effort. We have seen their talented core of Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver and Demarre Carroll all find their way to new teams. Atlanta is clearly trying to win the draft lottery in hopes of acquiring their next superstar that way.
One forgettable player currently on the Hawks roster is Miles Plumlee. The Plumlee brothers performed very well in college but have failed to make a difference on an NBA roster. Miles is less talented than his brother Mason as seen with his limited role on such a bad team. It is only a matter of time before Plumlee is forced out of the NBA. Maybe it’s best for him to start scouting new basketball leagues while he has some leverage.
29 Boston Celtics: Shane Larkin
Danny Ainge has done a tremendous job running the Boston Celtics to get them back to the top of the Eastern Conference. The decision to trade Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets for a plethora of picks set up them. Boston has drafted and acquired talent to build their future around like Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
Shane Larkin is one Celtics player that will likely not be on the roster in the long haul. Boston signed Larkin to serve as a backup point guard. Larkin was once a top prospect in college but has struggled since entering the league. The role of Larkin has seen him fail to contribute to the team in what could be his final shot in the NBA.
28 Brooklyn Nets: Timofey Mozgov
Timofey Mozgov may have the luckiest career in NBA history. The big man won an NBA Championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, signed a fat contract with the Los Angeles Lakers and was traded to the Brooklyn Nets within a few seasons. Mozgov currently sits on the Nets bench watching the games as Brooklyn has decided to sit him out for the rest of the year.
The Lakers traded away young prospect D’Angelo Russell and Mozgov to the Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and a draft pick. Their belief was that Russell was worth trading if they could get rid of the awful Mozgov contract. Many expect the Nets to seek out a buyout with Mozgov during the offseason since he has no value to them. Mozgov doesn’t have much time left in the NBA, but he has a ring and has made a lot of money.
27 Charlotte Hornets: Michael Carter-Williams
Michael Carter-Williams may be the worst Rookie of the Year winner of all-time when his career ends, and that may be sooner than later. The point guard looked solid in his first season with the Philadelphia 76ers. Carter-Williams won the Rookie of the Year Award in a weak class. Philadelphia was smart enough to trade him shortly after much to the dismay of many fans.
The 76ers were proved right when Carter-Williams continuously went downhill through the years. Most fans forget he’s even in the league today as a reserve for the Charlotte Hornets. The future of the Hornets franchise is up in the air with a team failing to contend nor having many young assets. Carter-Williams adds almost nothing and will likely be off the roster next season. It will be hard to see any team having interest in him.
26 Chicago Bulls: Omer Asik
The Chicago Bulls is another team attempting to rebuild and get back to prominence. Jimmy Butler being traded away shows that Chicago’s goal is contending for a title within the next decade rather than just looking to have a middle of the range playoff spot now. The Bulls are playing their young talents hoping to find a couple of future All-Stars.
Omer Asik is one of the few veterans on the roster. The big man was an important bench piece to the Chicago roster when they had hopes of contending in the early 2010s. Asik returned and is playing a much less important role today. The numbers of 1.3 points and 2.6 rebounds per game shows just how abysmal Asik has been. Basketball has evolved and makes it tougher for big men like Asik to keep up today.
25 Cleveland Cavaliers: Jose Calderon
The Cleveland Cavaliers had a plethora of talent ready for retirement when entering the season. A disappointing first half of the season led to the organization trading a third of the roster and bringing in younger pieces. LeBron James has stated the Cavaliers now look rejuvenated with the athleticism and youth adding a new intensity to the team.
One of the few older guys on the roster past his prime is Jose Calderon. The veteran point guard actually did a good job earlier in the season filling in for an injured Isaiah Thomas. However, the age and skills no longer allow him to compete with the most incredible depth of point guard talent in NBA history. Calderon is inching closer to retirement and this may be his best chance to end his career with a ring.
24 Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki is one of the all-time great NBA stars and could be argued as the best power forward in league history. NBA fans will always remember him for leading the Dallas Mavericks to an improbable 2011 NBA Championship win. Nowitzki is currently approaching his 40th birthday and still playing in the league. The talent of Dirk still allows him to contribute, but he is a shell of the legend he’s been most of his career.
Dallas is one of the worst teams in the NBA and are attempting to rebuild. Nowitzki is essentially playing for no reason these days. Various interviews have featured Dirk stating he wants to play one more season. It sadly makes no sense since the Mavericks will likely be tanking for another season in hopes of drafting a top pick. Nowitzki needs to hang it up and move on to the next chapter of his life.
23 Denver Nuggets: Richard Jefferson
The Cleveland Cavaliers made a surprising move when trading away Richard Jefferson before the season. Despite being a great locker room presence adding to team chemistry, Cleveland decided he was no longer worth having on the roster. Jefferson is one of the older players in the league with time clearly not on the side of his playing career.
The Denver Nuggets picked up Jefferson hoping to add his veteran presence to a relatively young roster looking to make noise in the Western Conference. Jefferson is mostly contributing in the locker room trying to get the team to a place where they can pull off an upset come playoff team. Sadly, his talent is just not enough to add to the team. Jefferson’s current role is basically an assistant coach. Teams may be better off hiring RJ as a coach than a player next season.
22 Detroit Pistons: Jameer Nelson
Jameer Nelson has had a very good NBA career for over a decade. The peak of Nelson’s career came when he was a big factor in the Orlando Magic’s successful 2009 season making the NBA Finals. Nelson was never a Superstar, but his skills certainly were good enough to serve as the point guard of a very good team. The skills of Nelson have diminished in recent years with the aging process and injuries taking place.
Nelson is currently a reserve for the Detroit Pistons attempting to fill the gap during Reggie Jackson’s injury. It looks like his time is up as the Pistons barely give him playing time. The numbers of 5.1 points and 3.6 assists per game show just how far Nelson has fallen. He may be better off in Ice Cube’s Big 3 rather than the NBA.
21 Golden State Warriors: David West
Many veterans want to join the Golden State Warriors in hopes of picking up an easy ring. The super team is considered the greatest talent roster in NBA history. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are all in their prime with many years of dominance ahead of them. Golden State does have a few veterans on the bench with David West being the one most over the hill.
West was a star for the New Orleans Hornets and Indiana Pacers attempting to contend for a title in the bigger role. However, he reached a point where he wanted to ring chase and joined the San Antonio Spurs. Once things failed to work out there, West signed with the Warriors and ended up getting his ring. The toughness of West contributes to the team, but he clearly can’t compete with the best players in the NBA anymore.
20 Houston Rockets: Joe Johnson
The Houston Rockets acquired Joe Johnson to add another veteran to the roster heading into their playoff run. Johnson was a member of the Utah Jazz and even played huge minutes in their first-round series victory last year. However, the aging process is showing as Johnson can no longer consistently play 25 minutes every night.
Johnson’s best years have clearly gone by and he is inching closer and closer towards retirement. The clutch shot making of Johnson could see him have some big moments in the playoffs, but he can no longer play full seasons. Johnson should start planning for his retirement. Houston at least gives him a strong final chance to win an NBA Championship ring before his time is up in the NBA.
19 Indiana Pacers: Al Jefferson
The center position has drastically changed through the years. It used to be the most important thing in the NBA to have a big man that could dominate the paint. This has changed in recent years with athleticism and shooting winning out over the big man play. We have seen the careers of many centers decline over the past few seasons due to this shift in the landscape.
Al Jefferson is one of the players to take a hit as his services became less important. The post play of Jefferson is no longer able to get him 20 points per game. Jefferson now averages 6.8 points per game for the Indiana Pacers. To make matters worse, he is unable to keep up with the speed of the current game. Jefferson is close to losing his spot in the league and may be better off retiring.
18 Los Angeles Clippers: Wesley Johnson
The Los Angeles Clippers have drastically changed their roster over the past year. They are no longer contenders in the Western Conference, but a youth movement is taking place. Clippers management wants to rebuild in the hopes of putting together a true contender rather than an early playoff exit every year. One player currently on the roster with not much of a future in the NBA is Wesley Johnson.
The talent of Johnson coming into the league in 2010 saw him get selected with a top five pick. Johnson is barely a blip on the radar in the NBA. While the Clippers do give him playing time, Johnson is just putting up 5.8 points per game. The recent embarrassing moment of James Harden crossing him over to oblivion gives him another reason to run away and never look back.
17 Los Angeles Lakers: Luol Deng
Luol Deng was once an All-Star caliber player for the Chicago Bulls. It looked like the Bulls were going to contend for a title with Deng as their second best player before the Derrick Rose injuries doomed them. Deng continued playing well until joining the Los Angeles Lakers. The decision of the Lakers to sign him to a fat contract ended up hurting the franchise in a major way.
Deng continued to decline for the Lakers to the point where the team is sitting him out. Despite being healthy, the Lakers have opted to play Deng just one game all season. It is a sweet gig to get paid millions to relax, but Deng’s time will likely be over soon. Many pundits expect the Lakers to reach a buyout agreement with Deng and it will be hard to envision any NBA team signing him.
16 Memphis Grizzlies: Mario Chalmers
The Memphis Grizzlies have fallen from a borderline title contender into a franchise with nothing but questions going forward. Mike Conley suffering a serious injury and Marc Gasol potentially leaving the franchise in the offseason could see them become full-fledged rebuilders. Mario Chalmers is one of the veterans to join the roster in hopes of adding depth for a playoff run.
The play of Chalmers as the replacement for Conley has been disappointing. Chalmers is now dealing with his own injury issues and Memphis may opt to have him sit out to play younger stars. The name value of Chalmers has fallen dramatically since his days as the Miami Heat point guard for the big three. Chalmers may be better suited retiring and finding a new basketball home given the lack of options for him.
15 Miami Heat: Udonis Haslem
No one was happier about Dwyane Wade returning to the Miami Heat at the trade deadline than Udonis Haslem. Both men were a part of all Heat NBA Championship runs in 2006, 2012 and 2013. Haslem has never left the Miami organization even though Wade walked away a few seasons ago. Despite being among the most beloved players on the roster, Haslem does not contribute much to the Heat roster.
The role of Haslem is more of a locker room leader than an on-court talent. Haslem plays about 5 minutes per game for the Heat and averages less than 1 point. Miami needs to start figuring out a plan to move him into a role as team employee. Haslem is great for the organization but he is wasting a roster spot.
14 Milwaukee Bucks: Jason Terry
One of the most surprising realizations for NBA fans is remembering Jason Terry is still in the league. A lot has changed in seven years for Terry. The point guard went from the second scorer on an NBA Championship team to a forgotten bench player. Terry is currently a reserve guard for the Milwaukee Bucks as they like his veteran presence.
Milwaukee tries to give Terry some playing time, but there’s no arguing that he is clearly washed. Terry will retire with a very underrated career. However, the final few years are going to hurt his all-around averages. It has been at least four seasons since Terry was a contributor. There’s no way he will be able to land another roster spot next season and retirement will be imminent.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Rose
The recent news of Derrick Rose signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves has many NBA experts scratching their heads in confusion. Rose was once arguably the best point guard in the NBA as the 2011 MVP Award winner. Serious knee injuries ruined his career and forced him to lose his spot as a superstar in the NBA.
The sad turn of events has seen Rose now struggle to land a roster spot at all. Minnesota signing him saved him after he ended up without a job after the Cleveland Cavaliers quit on him. Rose was one of the worst players in the league this season with Cleveland. This could be his final chance to prove he can still play in the NBA. The likely outcome is Rose failing to impress and going without an NBA gig next season.
12 New Orleans Pelicans: Emeka Okafor
Emeka Okafor found his way back into the NBA after a long absence this season. The New Orleans Pelicans signed Okafor to join the roster as a reserve following the injury to DeMarcus Cousins. Okafor was on the sidelines since 2013 due to injury issues and teams believing he could no longer compete in the NBA. New Orleans badly wanted depth and was impressed enough to give him a roster spot.
The story of returning to his dream job is a feel-good one, but it doesn’t mean he is able to contend against the top forwards in the league today. Okafor averages just 5 points per game and is not showing enough to change the perception of General Managers around the league. We likely won't see Okafor back in the NBA next season. The big man should start finding other options if he wants to keep playing professionally.
11 New York Knicks: Joakim Noah
The New York Knicks made one of the worst possible decisions when signing Joakim Noah to a fat contract in the 2016 offseason. Noah was a shell of his former All-Star status after he wore out his welcome with the Chicago Bulls. Knicks management decided to trade for Derrick Rose and sign Noah in hopes of the former Bulls becoming dominant forces again.
Noah sadly averaged just 5 points per game last season and got into various behind the scenes issues to make him a huge train wreck. The current season sees Noah being benched due to a confrontation with coach Jeff Hornacek as well as just not being able to perform. Noah has averaged a pathetic 1.7 points per game in his seven games this season. It is obvious he can no longer play at an NBA level and needs to retire.
10 Oklahoma City Thunder: Nick Collison
Nick Collison has been a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise going back to the days of the Seattle SuperSonics. The reputation of Collison saw him become known as one of the best teammates in the league. Collison’s play did not impress on the court, but his presence in the locker room helped the relocation to Oklahoma City work out.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have each credited Collison for playing an important role in the ascension of the Thunder franchise. Collison has been rewarded for being a good teammate by getting a roster spot even though he barely does anything on the court. This is going to wear out sooner than later, especially with the Thunder badly needing depth going forward. Collison must start thinking about retirement before the sweetheart deals stop coming from OKC.
9 Orlando Magic: Arron Afflalo
Arron Afflalo was once an impressive scorer in the NBA with a career high average of 18 points per game. Various teams have signed Afflalo as a sixth man in hopes of him being the missing piece for them to contend for a title. Afflalo has never been that much of a difference maker to give a team a better chance at winning an NBA Championship.
The better days of Afflalo are certainly behind him following a huge drop in his statistics. Afflalo has fallen from 18.2 points per game to 3.2 over a five-year period. The Orlando Magic seems to have given up on him as they try to find young talent to build around. Afflalo’s stock has never been this low, and he will likely have to continue playing in another league.
8 Philadelphia 76ers: Amir Johnson
The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the few teams with few choices to pick from. Philly only has a handful of veterans on the roster. Most of them do a very good job contributing in their limited roles. Amir Johnson is the weakest of the bunch failing to emerge as a reliable reserve forward. The past success of Johnson has seen him play an important role for the Toronto Raptors in prior playoff runs.
Johnson sadly does not appear able to contribute the same way. His current numbers for the 76ers are a weak 4.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Philadelphia sees a huge downgrade whenever Johnson is on the court at the power forward or center position. Johnson is on his way out of the league unless he can have a strong playoff run.
7 Phoenix Suns: Jared Dudley
Jared Dudley has the reputation of being a great locker room guy. The well-spoken nature of Dudley also helps him with off-court goals. ESPN and other networks have brought Dudley in to work as a broadcaster during his off time. It appears that discussing basketball would be a better choice than playing it these days for Dudley.
The Phoenix Suns added Dudley to try to help the young players progress during their early journey in the NBA. Dudley has seen him game fall dramatically through the years. His peak came when he averaged 12 points off the bench. Those numbers are now at 2.8 points per game for the Suns in 14 minutes. Dudley is no longer able to compete at the NBA level and his time to retire is now.
6 Portland Trail Blazers: Evan Turner
The Portland Trail Blazers having a superb season is a bit surprising given the lack of depth. Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic are the only three players on the roster that would be considered as above average in the NBA landscape. One player to let them down is reserve Evan Turner. It is easy to forget that Turner was the second overall pick in the 2010 Draft with some believing he should have been picked over John Wall.
Turner has never fulfilled his potential and is now struggling to contribute as a role player. Despite getting over 25 minutes of playing time per game, Turner is only putting up 7.9 points on weak percentages. The play of Turner is showing he may no longer be good enough for the NBA. Ice Cube should give him a phone call when the season ends.
5 Sacramento Kings: Vince Carter
Vince Carter is currently the oldest player in the NBA making you wonder why in the world he is playing for the Sacramento Kings. Most veterans in Carter’s spot would attempt to win a ring by joining a title contender in a smaller role. Carter chose to sign with the Kings due to the offer of having more playing time.
The production of Carter this season has shown some brilliant performances where he reminds us that he can still ball. It is sadly all taking place for nothing as the Kings are a lost cause. Carter is pushing the limits of his body to play for an irrelevant team that does nothing but lower his career averages. The logical option would be for "Vinsanity" to retire and find his way into the broadcasting world.
4 San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker
The San Antonio Spurs are going through a transition period of trying to build new stars. Gregg Popovich has dominated the past two decades with future Hall of Famers David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker on the roster. Ginobili and Parker are still playing today at the tail end of their careers.
Most would assume Manu is the guy that most needs to retire, but he is still contributing as an effective bench player. Parker has been the bigger disappointment with his skills going away faster than anyone could have guessed. Popovich made a bold move removing Parker from the starting lineup and it helped the team’s overall efforts. Parker will potentially hurt his legacy if he doesn’t choose to retire sooner than later.
3 Toronto Raptors: CJ Miles
The Toronto Raptors have done a good job at getting rid of the dead weight on their roster in recent years. Most of the roster contributes to the team’s great success this season as the current top seed in the Eastern Conference. The combination DeMar DeRozan playing at an MVP level, Kyle Lowry playing at an All-Star level and a strong set of role players all coincide for great results.
CJ Miles may be the weakest overall player in the Raptors rotations, especially when you factor his greater experience. The shooting skills of Miles have always been his greatest strength, but it has diminished in recent years. Following over a decade in the league, Miles is reaching the end of the road. Retirement may be the best option looking at his below average play these days.
2 Utah Jazz: Thabo Sefolosha
Journeyman Thabo Sefolosha is currently a member of the Utah Jazz. The inability to score has always hurt Sefolosha from becoming a valued NBA player. Oklahoma City Thunder fans have memories of him missing open shots and having to be taken out of important games due to teams flat out leaving him open. The defense of Sefolosha has been the strongest facet of his game.
Jazz fans have witnessed the inconsistency of Sefolosha along with injury woes. Thabo has only played 38 of 66 games as of this writing. The current MCL injury could see Sefolosha miss the rest of the season. Various issues have seen him struggle to find a role in the NBA in recent years. The writing may be on the wall for Sefolosha to retire at the end of the season.
1 Washington Wizards: Jodie Meeks
Jodie Meeks has been bouncing around the NBA in recent years trying to find a role as a reserve shooting guard. The peak of Meeks’ career has been double digit scoring averages at various points for the Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons. Meeks has struggled to reach that level over the past few years.
The Washington Wizards signed Meeks this past offseason to serve as some depth off the bench. Meeks has received a lot of opportunity with John Wall being sidelined and the Wizards needing their guards to step up. Unfortunately, Meeks has failed to make the most of his time on the court. A weak average of 6.1 points per game show the strong suit of his game in scoring no longer being impressive. Meeks must be considering retirement after witnessing his play diminish.
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