The NBA season is rapidly approaching with all teams hoping to make a statement. Most teams made huge acquisitions in the offseason with the intent of improving. Every major superstar agreed to a contract with a team during the summer months. The offseason leads to everyone making big decisions when it comes to their free agent status. There are some more surprising decisions that flew under the radar to the average fan. A small percentage of players have mysterious futures ahead of them despite starting the season without a role. These are free agents that are hoping to find a new team at some during the season. Many of these players are veterans with the belief that they can join a team and make a difference when called upon.
There have also been plenty of veterans that decided to hang it up quietly. Not every NBA player will get the opportunity to retire with a farewell tour like Kobe Bryant in recent memory, and Dwyane Wade this upcoming season. They either just decided to officially announce their retirement online or stopped trying to find a team to sign them. Fans didn’t realize it due to how under-the-radar it went. We will look at both sides of the story. Find out which players may return, and which are gone. These are ten NBA players fans didn’t realize are still free agents right now. along with ten that quietly retired.
20 Retired: Roy Hibbert
The NBA career of Roy Hibbert ended in depressing fashion following some success with the Indiana Pacers. Hibbert played superb defense and helped the Pacers become a contender in the Eastern Conference playoff picture before falling short to LeBron James’ Miami Heat.
The success of Hibbert landed him on the All-Star team and earned him major money. Unfortunately, things fell apart as he seemingly witnessed his talent disappear in quick fashion. Hibbert lost his spot in the NBA and ended up making the decision to retire this offseason. A fan asked if he would take a spot on the Los Angeles Lakers given their lack of center depth and he said he’s not looking for any return.
19 Free agent: Joe Johnson
Joe Johnson was one of the best shooting guards in the NBA during his time on the Atlanta Hawks. "Iso Joe's" clutch game saw him hit many big shots throughout his NBA career. Johnson was contributing to heroic moments in postseason wins for the Utah Jazz as recently as the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
The Houston Rockets acquired Johnson last season but barely played him due to his diminished play in older age. Johnson is still trying to find an NBA home for at least one more season. He should be able to still deliver on the court in limited action if a team is lacking a veteran bench wing player.
18 Retired: Mo Williams
Mo Williams' career once saw him as the best teammate of LeBron James in the 2000s. Williams stepped up to give James some help during the late 2000s run for the Cleveland Cavaliers. It didn’t work out then, but Williams was a reserve for the 2016 NBA Championship winning Cleveland squad.
Cavaliers fans will always have a soft spot for Williams as he spent his best seasons with them. Williams officially retired from the NBA earlier this season when taking a job as an assistant coach for the Cal State Northridge men’s basketball team. Mo wants to become a successful coach now that his playing days are over.
17 Free agent: Tony Allen
Tony Allen was one of the best defensive players in the NBA over the past decade. The Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies and a few other teams witnessed Allen's work ethic shining through on the defensive end of the court. Allen was good enough to contribute offensively in spurts, but his bread and butter was defending the opposing team’s best wing player.
There is a good chance someone will take a chance on Allen at some point during the season. Allen's defense and veteran presence could benefit a team dealing with an injury or needing another rotation spot filled. Allen won’t officially hang it up unless he gets snubbed the entire season.
16 Retired: Metta World Peace
Metta World Peace has had a very underrated career in the NBA. Despite bouncing around the league for many different teams, World Peace has many great accomplishments like an NBA Championship, an All-Star appearance and a Defensive Player of the Year Award.
The Los Angeles Lakers had the best relationship with Metta during the latter half of his career. World Peace played his final NBA season with the Lakers primarily as a veteran locker room presence. After the NBA, he played for the Big 3 league this past summer, but his NBA playing days are over. Metta is now a player development coach for the Lakers G-League team.
15 Free agent: Jameer Nelson
Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson is still trying to continue his career in the league. Nelson has achieved a lot of success with his best seasons coming with the Orlando Magic. Many fans are shocked to realize he was once an All-Star, but he played a huge role in Orlando’s best seasons of the 2000s.
Nelson has bounced around the league in recent years as a bench player trying to contribute in small spurts. Last season saw him play for both the New Orleans Pelicans and Detroit Pistons in limited action. Nelson is hoping someone will give him one more chance this season, but his time in the NBA may be up.
14 Retired: David Lee
It is easy to forget that David Lee was once considered one of the top power forwards in the NBA. The Golden State Warriors started their rebuilding process by signing Lee as their big free agent to work with the young Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in creating the winning culture.
Lee suffered injuries and saw Draymond Green pass him in the pecking order. To his credit, Lee did contribute to the Warriors 2015 NBA Championship run. Sadly, his injury issues caused his overall play to go down. Lee tried to keep it going for a few more seasons before officially retiring from the NBA.
13 Free agent: Jason Terry
Jason Terry was one of the more underrated players in the NBA during his time with the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks. The Mavericks' 2011 NBA Championship run featured Terry hitting many big shots leading to victories in the postseason.
Terry has sadly seen his play regress drastically over the past six years due to the aging process. The 40-year-old point guard can no longer compete with today’s younger stars, but he did get to play for the Milwaukee Bucks over the past two seasons as a veteran locker room leader. Terry wants to continue playing. No team has signed him, but there have been rumblings about Dallas wanting to add him so he could end his career where he had his biggest successes.
12 Retired: Boris Diaw
Boris Diaw emerged as one of the top role players in the NBA during his career. The Frenchman's diverse skill set allowed him to contribute in many ways, from scoring to passing to rebounding to defending to spacing the floor.
Diaw spent his most successful seasons with the San Antonio Spurs during five of their playoff runs. His versatility was important to the 2014 NBA Championship win. Diaw spent his final NBA season with the Utah Jazz during 2016-2017. The news broke in September of 2018 that Diaw was officially retiring from the league and was ready for the next chapter of his life.
11 Free agent: Nick Young
The controversial Nick Young is known for his wild playing style on the court and his odd decisions in real life. Young developed the nickname of Swaggy P during his time on the Los Angeles Lakers. He did average as much as 17.9 points per game in his best season, but Lakers management grew tired of his reckless shooting decisions on offense.
The Golden State Warriors gave Young his dream scenario last season on the NBA Championship roster. Young played limited minutes and used his outside shooting strength to hit wide-open three-pointers when opposing players double-teamed Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry. Young is currently a free agent, with no teams taking the chance on him. Swaggy P is hoping to find an NBA home during the season.
10 Retired: David West
Another forgotten bench piece from the Golden State Warriors run last season was David West. The toughness and gritty play of West made him a success in the NBA for many seasons, with his best runs coming for the New Orleans Hornets and Indiana Pacers.
West reached a point where he just wanted to win NBA Championships, so he signed with the San Antonio Spurs and later the Warriors. As a Warrior, West won two NBA Championship rings to fulfill his dream. West made the decision to retire this offseason, citing the difficulties of keeping up with the younger players today as his reason.
9 Free agent: Jamal Crawford
Jamal Crawford has been one of the best bench players in NBA history. His ability to score in bunches and the reputation of being a great teammate made Crawford stand out for seven different teams in his playing career. Crawford had his best run with the Los Angeles Clippers, as he won two of his three Sixth Man of the Year Awards with them.
The Minnesota Timberwolves most recently had Crawford on their roster last season. No team has signed Crawford to a contract yet this offseason. Crawford has posted messages on social media expressing disappointment in the lack of offers. There is a good chance someone signs Crawford during the summer as the biggest realistic name on the free agent market.
8 Retired: Deron Williams
Former superstar point guard Deron Williams saw his status in the NBA fall from an All-Star to someone not getting any calls from teams. Williams spent his best seasons in the Utah Jazz, but it all fell apart when he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
The pressure of a bigger market along with injuries doomed Williams. He was never able to recover and saw his final games come during embarrassing performances in the 2017 NBA Finals as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers falling short to the Golden State Warriors. Opposing teams felt Williams was done after seeing how badly he looked in such important games. Williams seems content with retiring, as he does not want to try out or fight for a roster spot.
7 Free agent: Chris Bosh
Most NBA fans assume Chris Bosh is officially retired and done attempting to return to the NBA. Bosh was not cleared to compete following the discovery of blood clots on his lungs ending his final two seasons in the league. Miami refused to risk Bosh's health, and he has not played an NBA game since then.
Bosh, however, is not retired and is planning for an NBA comeback. The former superstar big man is now in the stages of finding his way back to an NBA team this season. Bosh reportedly would like to play for either the New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers to regain his star reputation.
6 Retired: Mirza Teletovic
Mirza Teletovic came over to the NBA as a big international acquisition when the Brooklyn Nets brought him over from Europe. Teletovic's outside shooting and general toughness made him a great bench piece in the NBA. Brooklyn, the Phoenix Suns, and Milwaukee Bucks all saw him contribute to success.
The end of Teletovic’s career came when pulmonary emboli were discovered in both of his lungs. Teletovic officially retired from the NBA this past offseason when a comeback seemed impossible. Teletovic is now back home, working at the Basketball Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. His passion for basketball will continue even after retirement.
5 Free agent: Richard Jefferson
Richard Jefferson's career saw him have just about every role from a star on the then-New Jersey Nets to a role player for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jefferson was a key role player who helped the Cavaliers as they won the 2016 NBA Championship.
Cleveland traded Jefferson to the Denver Nuggets and he spent a season there last year. The veteran is contemplating his future ahead of the season. Jefferson is still a free agent who seems to be waiting on the right offer. If one doesn’t come his way and he chooses to retire, Jefferson has a deal offered by the Brooklyn Nets to become a color commentator.
4 Retired: Tiago Splitter
Tiago Splitter is an easily forgettable player in NBA circles when looking back at his career. However, he does deserve credit for starting at center for the San Antonio Spurs for a few postseason runs, including the 2014 NBA Championship run.
Splitter always contributed in plays that the stat sheets would not showcase. The center's career ended in disappointment as he struggled to find time in a rotation outside of San Antonio. He made the decision to retire upon realizing his playing days were over. Splitter now works for the Brooklyn Nets organization as a pro scout and a part of the player on-court development team.
3 Free agent: Corey Brewer
Corey Brewer was a top ten draft pick entering the league, but the superstar route was not for him. The Florida wingman's versatility allowed him to thrive in a smaller role as a role player for many teams. Brewer could hit open shots, play great defense and set a great example as a good teammate.
The Oklahoma City Thunder acquired him ahead of the playoff last season and played him over Carmelo Anthony at times. Brewer is still a free agent heading into this season. He is still good enough to play in the NBA and some team will take a chance on him. Brewer's future going forward remains to be seen, but it is unlikely he retires any time soon.
2 Retired: Mike Dunleavy Jr.
Mike Dunleavy Jr.'s time with Duke in the college scene made him a huge prospect entering the league. Dunleavy was drafted third overall in the 2002 NBA Draft. The outside shooting and solid passing of Dunleavy were his strengths and allowed him to bounce around the league as a rotation player rather than a star.
Dunleavy’s playing time consistently went down through each season and he struggled to contribute during his final few years in the league. The second-generation star's decision to retire simply had him revealing he was ready to stop playing professionally. Dunleavy is already starting the next chapter of his career as the Golden State Warriors hired him as a pro scout ahead of this season.
1 Free agent: Brandan Wright
Brandan Wright's size, strength, and finesse made him an interesting rotation player in the NBA for many years. Wright spent his best seasons with the Dallas Mavericks. It led to Mavericks management expecting him to finally hit his potential and become a major piece of their future.
Wright’s momentum ended quickly, and he continued to bounce around the league looking for the right spot. The Houston Rockets most recently signed Wright last season and gave him the boot after just one game. Wright is still looking for a new NBA home and hopes to continue his career as a role player.