What is the NBA going to look like in 2020? Answering that can be a tall task. Predicting the landscape of the league can be nearly impossible. After all, who could’ve predicted a mere two years ago that Kevin Durant would join the Warriors, Melo would flame out of OKC, Paul George would spurn L.A., and Gordon Hayward would come back from a crushing injury to play for Boston. Serious injuries, suspensions, trades, surprise retirements and far more affect the state of the league almost every single day. So, in all honesty, anything could happen.
But still, there comes a point in every player’s career where it comes time to hang it up for good, at least in the NBA. (I firmly believe some NBA players could play well into their 50s overseas.) Whether that moment comes due to age (looking at you, Kobe), injuries, or never being that good in the first place, no one stays in this league forever. The harsh reality is, it’s a make or miss league in the NBA, and once those shots stop falling, teams don’t care about why. After all, it is a business.
So, without further ado, here is my next list: 20 Players Who Will Be Out Of The League By 2020. This list was tough, and there are some controversial selections, but ultimately, I’m as confident as one can be in trying to predict such a fickle beast as the NBA. Enjoy the article, and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
20 Dirk Nowitzki
It’s been a hell of a career for Dirk Nowitzki. An MVP, 12 All-NBA selections, 13 All-Star appearances, and of course one of the most unlikely title runs in NBA History. But no matter how great you are, Father Time is undefeated, and it is becoming increasingly likely that this season will be Nowitzki’s last. But he’s not done yet: over the course of 77 games last year, Nowitzki was still producing, posting 12 points and nearly 6 rebounds per game. He may be old, but he’s not dead, and will look to remain a solid contributor at age 40 in what will probably be his last season.
19 Dwyane Wade
What can you say about Dwyane Wade that hasn’t already been said? Perhaps the third greatest shooting guard in NBA history (behind MJ and Kobe), Wade has been an icon in the league since the day he was drafted. After three championships, a scoring title, and transitioning himself into the greatest shot-blocking guard of all-time, there’s not much else for Wade to accomplish in this league. But age and a slew of injuries have left the former Finals MVP a shell of his old self. After posting an inefficient 11 points per contest for Cleveland and Miami, Wade has signed a one-year “farewell” deal with the Heat to ride his storied career into the sunset in the city he brought back to basketball relevance. Who knows? After that, he may decide to play in China, where he was offered a massive contract.
18 Vince Carter
Remember when Vince Carter jumped over a 7-footer to posterize him in the Olympics? That was eighteen years ago. That dunk propelled Carter to an incredible career, complete with eight All-Star appearances, two All-NBA selections, and the undisputed title of greatest dunker in league history. Now, at age 41, Carter continues to defy logic and reason, signing yet another one-year deal in Atlanta. However, we have reason to suspect this might be his last after managing a mere 5.8 points per game for the Kings in 2017-18. Signed for his “veteran presence” to help mentor young rookie Trae Young, I highly doubt we will see Carter on the court in 2020 (he would be 43 by the way.) But Carter is a joy to watch, and this is one prediction I wouldn’t mind being wrong about.
17 Jason Terry
Continuing with the theme of “players who were in the league before Y2K”, Jason Terry is next up on our list. “The Jet” is in the twilight of his career, playing 54 games for the Milwaukee Bucks last season at age 40. And while he has yet to sign with a team, he is leaving the door open for a return to the league and a mind-boggling 20thseason in the NBA. However, that door is shutting with each passing day, and after a career that brought him a 6thMan of the Year trophy and an NBA title, there would be no shame in hanging it up before 2020.
16 Pau Gasol
After 17 seasons in the NBA, Pau Gasol is still putting his heart on the floor. With his newly developed three-point shot, Gasol put up an efficient 10 points per game last season off the bench for San Antonio. But as his offensive game has evolved, his defense has done the opposite, as he has become an absolute turnstile on that end of the ball. It’s not entirely his fault though – at age 37, your athleticism just isn’t what it once was. Unfortunately, though, that is becoming clearer with each passing week, and we here at TheSportster would be shocked to see the two-time champ lace them up in 2020.
15 Joakim Noah
Some players succumb to age. Some succumb to injuries. Some never get off the ground in the first place. There are so many reasons we see good players fall, but Joakim Noah is one of the most curious cases I have ever seen. The former defensive anchor is only 33, but a horrible contract, a string of injuries, and a regression in his already mediocre offensive skills resulted in Noah seeing only 7 games last season for a poor Knicks team. Time will tell if Noah can regain any semblance of the player he once was, but in a league going smaller and smaller while simultaneously leaning towards skilled, offensive centers, I doubt this league will have a place for Noah in 2020.
14 Zach Randolph
Just like Pau Gasol, Zach Randolph has been putting up numbers for 17 NBA seasons. The 2004 Most Improved Player was very productive on a bad Kings team last year, posting 14.5 points and 6.7 rebounds a game. Randolph’s impact might have been even greater in the locker room, however, as he was a key mentor to the plethora of young big men on the Kings roster. Still, while he has remained a valuable player, he is also 37, and history has shown us that big men do not age well. The physicality of the center position is unrivaled, and so while I expect Randolph to play in 2019, house money is on a retirement speech for the former Memphis icon.
13 Tyson Chandler
Tyson Chandler is one of those guys that you always trade for in NBA 2K because he has a great contract and is a fantastic rim protector. But real life is not 2K, and after 17 seasons in the NBA, it might soon be time to hang it up. He appeared in only 46 games last season, and 47 the year before that, and was average at best in his 25 or so minutes per game. He also just turned 36, and I expect him to have a similar send off to Gasol and Randolph. The center position is physical and unforgiving, and unless he signs a 2014 Tracy McGrady-style deal with a contender, I don’t think we will see Tyson Chandler suiting up past this season.
12 Bruno Caboclo
So far, every entry on this list has been at least 35 years old. But Bruno Caboclo is nowhere near that. In fact, he’s only 22. Touted as the “Brazilian KD” when he was drafted, Bruno has appeared in exactly 35 games over 4 NBA seasons, starting one of them. Considered a project by the Raptors when they drafted him, Toronto either gave up or just outright failed at developing him, and finally let Caboclo go in a trade to Sacramento. He proceeded to score a whopping 2.6 points per game, appearing in 10 games for a lottery bound Kings Team. After 4 years in the league, I think it’s safe to say Bruno just doesn’t have it, and will be playing overseas by this time in 2020.
11 Jose Calderon
No, he isn’t Jose Calderon the billionaire. But he is Jose Calderon the basketball player, which is pretty good too. Calderon was never spectacular, it’s true. His highest points per game in a single season in only 12.8, and he hasn’t cracked over 5 per for over four seasons now. But in his prime he was efficient and serviceable, which is nothing to cough at. Few players make it past five seasons in this league, so to still be playing at age 37 is a rare accomplishment. Still, his numbers and effectiveness have decreased with each passing season, and after managing a paltry 4.5 PPG as a starter in Cleveland last year, it’s safe to say the writing in on the wall for Calderon’s future in the NBA.
10 Kendrick Perkins
The last time we saw Kendrick Perkins, he was, quite literally, “suited up” for the 2018 NBA Finals. As in, the only thing he wore that series was a suit on the sidelines. Perkins' main contribution that series probably benefited the opposing team more than his own, as a few of his choice words sparked a barrage of three that effectively ended the miniscule sliver of hope the Cavaliers had left in that series. And truth be told, Perkins hasn’t truly put up any relevant numbers since averaging 10 points per game and nearly 8 rebounds almost nine years ago. After 14 seasons in the NBA, one of the NBA’s most feared former enforcers will almost definitely hang it up before 2020.
9 Tony Parker
Tony Parker, Charlotte Hornets point guard. It feels weird even typing it, but that’s the strange reality of the world we live in today. The former Spurs legend lost his starting job in San Antonio to young up-and-comer Dejounte Murray and signed a two-year deal with Charlotte, but at age 36 and with 17 seasons under his belt already, it will be a race to see if Parker’s body can hold out the length of his contract. When taking in consideration his relatively recent hamstring tear and the additional wear and tear of 19 seasons worth of playoff games, my feeling is that when Father Time finally nabs Tony, his descent will be hard and fast. I sense a buyout in the near future for Charlotte.
Perhaps the most mediocre player to ever be known by just their first name, Nene has enjoyed a productive career. Good for at least 14 points and 7 rebounds a night in his prime, the Brazilian product has begun to see his minutes fall as he heads into his 17th NBA season. Athleticism is always the first to go, and when athleticism and hustle is the biggest factor of your game, you go with it. I expect Nene to hang them up by the end of this season, and put an end to one of the most productive Brazilian careers of all time.
7 Jameer Nelson
Jameer Nelson has yet to find a team in 2018 after appearing in 50 games last season for the Pistons and Pelicans in which he put up a less than admirable 5 points and 3.6 assists per game, and was less than efficient while doing it. It’s been 10 years since Nelson’s one and only All-Star appearance, so for him to be around still is a feat in and of itself. But as his career dwindles into his late 30s and Father Time begins to catch up, we may see the former Orlando standout hang up his sneakers and transition into life post-basketball.
6 Zaza Pachulia
This entry was another difficult one for me to put on here. Pachulia is coming off a dynasty run with the Warriors in which he was serviceable, if not great. 5 points and 5 rebounds a game is nothing to write home about, but he did make his presence felt on the defensive end. The much-maligned Georgian has seen his minutes dwindle over the last few years, and is already 34, going to be 35 over the course of the season. We’ve seen a trend already in this list of aging big men, and Pachulia is no different. If had to bet on it, Pachulia’s latest one year deal with Detroit will be his last.
5 Michael Carter-Williams
In his first game in the NBA, Michael carter-Williams upset the defending champion Miami Heat in a near quadruple double effort, posting a ridiculous stat line of 22/12/7/9. Since then, though, it has been all downhill for the Syracuse alumnus. Having already signed with five teams in five years, MCW was awful in 52 games last season, posting just 4.6 points and 2.2 assists per game on just 33.2% shooting, among the worst in the league. This last-ditch effort with the Rockets in the upcoming season might be his last shot at success in the league. My money is on the opposite happening, and I am very confident in my assumption that we will not see Carter-Williams in 2020 or any year after.
4 Raymond Felton
Raymond Felton is still chugging along. At age 33, Felton played in an astounding 82 games last season, making his inclusion on this list a tough one. However, his offensive numbers have been less than spectacular during his time with the Thunder. Felton hasn’t posted more than 10 points per game since 2014, and his minutes saw a stark drop from his previous season with the Clippers. If he continues to put in work for 82 games a season, I just don’t think his body will be able to make it to 2020 and beyond, especially as he reaches his mid to late thirties.
3 Omer Asik
Omer Asik has gotten a lot of flak over the years, which to be expected anytime you hand an injury-prone big man a massive contract. But it wasn’t all deserved. When healthy, he was a serviceable big man, capable of putting up 10/10 on any given night, and even played all 82 games for Houston in 2013. Unfortunately, “when healthy” is the key term here, and after that ironman 2013 season, Asik broke 70 games played only once over the next five seasons, culminating in just 18 games last season. And they were an unspectacular 18 games at that, averaging just 1 point and 2.5 rebounds per contest. Coming into his ninth season and already 32-years-old, Asik might be better off looking overseas for his next contract.
2 Joe Johnson
“Iso Joe” Johnson has been putting up big numbers for 17 seasons now. After seven All-Star games, an All-NBA selection, and the snatching of Paul Pierce’s ankles, the sharpshooting chucker is in the twilight of his career. After playing for six different NBA franchises, Johnson joined his seventh last season with the Houston Rockets. As of now, Johnson has yet to sign with an NBA team, and although he hopes to play out one final season, there’s no guarantee any team will take a flier on the 37-year-old. Regardless though, we are near the end of his “Hall Of Very Good” career and almost certainly will not see him on the court in 2020.
1 DeAndre Liggins
DeAndre Liggins is an absolutely ferocious defender. That much I can say with confidence. But other than his tenacity and energy on that end of the court, Liggins fails to pass the sniff test in literally every other key statistic. An inefficient shooter, poor shot creator, bad passer and free throw shooter, Liggins doesn’t offer anything of value on offense. Defense can only get you so far in this league, which is why Liggins has bounced in and out of the G-League. Barring some sort of miraculous development on offense, it seems to me that his most recent stint in the league will be his last.