LeBron James, Chris Paul and DeMarcus Cousins share one important factor when it comes to possibly not playing in the NBA next season: they are all free agents. Contracts and guaranteed money are what prevent many players from retiring when they should and prevents teams from waiving them when needed. While the pending free agency will not hinder the aforementioned employment, the lack of a contract will be the reason some players will not return to the NBA.
Some people do not want to retire, and when they do, it is not long until they begin to miss the feeling of contributing to society. It is this phenomena of "wanting to work" that has supplied the nation with an unlimited supply of senior citizens willing to greet us at any big box store you may frequent prior to 11 am. After the final whistle has blown on a player's career, the adjustment period is difficult. After retirement some players become coaches or broadcasters, others find success in the competitive world of business as explored in this article.
Here we explore 8 players who will retire prior to the 2018-2019 season and 8 who will continue to play overseas. The big stars are obvious and have been discussed, with no reason to re-hash the big stars, we discuss the established vets and potentially developing young talents who we will not see in the NBA come October 2018.
16 Retire: Derrick Rose
Every rose has its thorn. In Derrick's case, it is his knees and ankles. The days of the 2011 MVP earning over $20 million seem like a forgotten memory. Once waived by Utah, Rose received another contract in Minnesota because Tom Thibodeau has enough of a soft spot to give him 12 minutes.
The three time All-Star was supposed to showcase his talents, but instead his stat line is more of a flat line.
By averaging 6 points per game and career lows in 2 point field goal percentage (42%) and 3 point field goal percentage (16%) his dreams of being offered another contract are as broken as his body. In 2016 when asked by ESPN's Nick Friddell about retiring in Chicago, Rose stated: “That's still true . . . I'm doing all this because of my son now, you know? Just wanting to be around him every day..." The only way D-Rose gets back to the Windy City is retirement.
15 Overseas: Marco Belinelli
Belinelli's worth in the NBA open market has dropped considerably. He and his $6.3 million contract were traded to the Hawks, who promptly bought him out. He then signed for a bit over $776 thousand with the 76ers. The native of Italy is now providing depth off of the 76ers bench. The 32 year old made nearly 90% of his free throws and extended the defense by hitting approximately 38% from deep.
Several playoff teams expressed interest in him, but only because they had the roster and cap space.
With the salary cap set to increase slightly next season, the 6'5" shooting guard will have a difficult time inking a deal that will pay him what he is used to. Hopefully he still has family in Italy, because the only option he is going to have for '18-'19 is to go back and defend his 2005 Italian Supercup MVP.
14 Retire: Jose Calderon
Jose Manuel Calderon Borrallo began his basketball career in Spain, and will end it in the United States. The 36 year old is currently logging 16 minutes a game for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but making little difference in the box score. Contributing 4.5 points and 2 assists per game at $2.3 million dollars is not giving a team a high return on their investment.
Playing for 7 teams over 12 years, "Numero Ocho" has made over $80 million dollars but he joined half those teams during the last 2 seasons.
Calderon has become a piece as opposed to a player. The Spaniard began the process of limiting basketball in his life when he retired from the Spanish National Team in 2016, now it is time to retire before Vince Carter does, so he can be the first player to have his jersey retired by the Toronto Raptors.
13 Overseas: Omri Casspi
At 29 years of age Omri Casspi has several years of basketball left in him, he just will not be spending them in the NBA. After being waived by the Golden State Warriors on April 8th, the career 37% three point shooter seems to be out of NBA options. Being traded once and waived twice within the last 4 months of the season is an indication that you should be more than happy you have earned over $14 million for 552 career games. If the 6'9" power forward was several years older, he would be a prime candidate for retirement.
The shorter seasons and his NBA experience will make him a big free agent signing overseas.
The smart money is that he returns to the Israeli Super League and forms a "Big 3" with Pierre Jackson and John DiBartolomeo for Maccabi Tel Aviv.
12 Retire: Damien Wilkins
Damien Wilkins had the opportunity to play for the Seattle Supersonics for 4 years before they relocated to Oklahoma in 2007. At 38 years old, the nephew of "The Human Highlight Reel" totalled just 152 minutes on a basketball court in the '17-'18 season, his first season back in the NBA after a 4 year hiatus. During those 4 years the 2016 NBA D-League All Star played in Venezuela, North Carolina and Puerto Rico. Despite not being drafted out of college the 6'6" swingman has managed to etch out a 9 year career, but after being waived for the fourth time in his career, most recently the Indiana Pacers, it is time for Wilkins to sit back, relax and stare at his 2016 FIBA Americas League Grand Final MVP.
11 Overseas: Rakeem Christmas
You can use an advent calendar to keep track of the career games the 2016 draft pick has played on an NBA court. Is stats per 36 minutes were very impressive in the 6 minutes he played in his rookie season, unfortunately he was unable to maintain anything close to that once given even the slightest increase in playing time over 29 games. "Roc" had been back and forth from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants 16 times between November 2015 and February 2017, until the Indiana Pacers gave him a big lump of coal in the form of being waived in July '17. The 2015 All ACC Defensive Team member ended 2018 in the New Zealand Basketball League averaging 7.5 points over 12 games. With minimal success in the NBL there is little indication that there will be Christmas in the NBA next season.
10 Retire: Mike Dunleavy jr
After 15 seasons, 986 games played, with none of them come during the 2017-2018 season, it is time for "The Natural" to call it a career. One can tell the direction their career is headed, by who you are being traded for.
The last trade the 6'9" forward was part of involved Mo Williams and Kyle Korver, all individuals who are well past the midpoint of their careers.
Despite never winning any individual awards or selected for any All-Star teams, the 2001 NCAA champion has a lot to be proud of. During 12 of his seasons he averaged double digits, and only 2 of those seasons did he average less than 25 minutes played. He has made his footprint in the NBA, but since injuries have kept him away from the game for a whole season, it is only a matter of time before he makes his retirement official.
9 Overseas: Isaiah Canaan
The 2014 second round draft pick was largely ineffective in the 20 games he played in the '17-'18 season. While some players are celebrated for remaining with the same franchise for the entire span of their career, the former OVC Freshman of the Year has not been able to stay with the same franchise for an entire season (excluding his rookie year). Due to his relative young age of 26 and his lack of success in the G-League since his All-Star appearance in 2014, it seems if he plans on continuing to play basketball it is going to have to be overseas next season. Success is not guaranteed there either, and being born and raised in Biloxi Mississippi, it might take some time to adjust. If Canaan hopes to have a chance in the NBA again, overseas is the route.
8 Retire: Devin Harris
In the height of his career the 2009 All Star averaged around 16 points and up to 7 assists a season. Numbers that warrant being selected with the 5th selection in the 2004 NBA draft. In the 2017-2018 season the 35 year old point guard averaged a little over 18 minutes, with 8.5 points, while shooting 43%.
Those numbers on their own are not pushing the 2004 Big Ten Player of the Year out of the league, it is the $4.2 million dollars that accompanies the free agent.
With a career earnings of over $73 million dollars, the Wisconsin native has no reason to continue to hang on in the league as a depth player or veteran voice. He will have plenty of time during his retirement to register for fall classes at the University of Wisconsin to add to the summer ones in order to finish of his sociology degree.
7 Overseas: Nik Stauskas
The Mississauga born Nik Stauskas is in a particularly uncertain point of his career. He is 24 years of age, has 3 years of NBA experience. With franchises increasingly using the G-League has a developmental program for young, unestablished players they hope to develop, the former 8th overall pick does not seem to fit there. Having averaged just 7 points while getting 21 minutes per game, he does not seem to be a fit in the NBA either. It seems "Sauce Castillo" is destined to take his 35% shooting from 3 point range overseas.
His Canadian nationality will serve him well, for Canadians are regarded highly abroad.
He will not be fortunate enough to find a team that will pay him nearly $3 million, but it may just be fate that he attended Lithuanian Saturday School in Toronto and is able to speak the language. Anybody with a ball can play over there.
6 Retire: Josh McRoberts
The graduate of Carmel High School made slightly over a million dollars per every one of the 6 minutes he played over 2 games with the Dallas Mavericks during the 2017-2018 season. The 2005 McDonald's All-American MVP has not averaged over 5 points or 4 rebounds in 4 seasons. Standing at 6'10" the power forward once used his size and post moves to average 9 points and 7 rebounds, that however was prior to missing all but two games while rehabbing a foot injury and ultimately being waived. With a career earnings that exceeds $30 million, "Mc Bob" has no reason to look for opportunities overseas for a paycheque.
Throughout his career he has had success through his hustle and on court awareness, two ingredients that afford ex players an opportunity to be a skills coach in the NBA, or to develop a generation of post players in the G-league. Once thought of as 'one of the most hated players in the NBA' is indication he must have done something right and now has earned the right to rehab his foot in retirement.
5 Overseas: Ed Davis
Things change quickly in the NBA. Players who once had a roster spot find themselves looking more dumbfounded than a 5 year old at a birthday party who was too busy eating cheese balls while the music stopped during musical chairs. Roster spots are not permanent, this is going to be the reality the free agent will be confronted with as the '18-'19 season approaches. Before the '15-'16 season, Davis signed a 3 year deal with the Portland Trailblazers that paid him over $6 million dollars each year.
Over that time period the 7 year vet has averaged a high of 6 points and 7 rebounds while logging 19 minutes per game.
At 6'10" the McDonald's All American will instantly become a commodity for any European team. The 2010 7th overall pick will not make the same kind of money in Europe, but he will not be making any money in North America.
4 Retire: Tony Allen
"The Grindfather", aptly nicknamed for his hustle on the court has played 840 career games spanning over 13 season. The 36 year old out of Oklahoma University has had a serviceable career, but the 22 games he participated in during the '17-'18 season saw the perimeter defender average career lows in minutes, rebounds, steals, assists, free throw percentage and points.
The fractured fibula he suffered in December '17 and the subsequent setback are the telling's from the body that the heart does not want to hear.
The three time All Defensive Team member has made over $45 million in NBA contracts, since he was waived in February by the New Orleans Pelicans his head needs to realize it is time to retire. His style of play does not correspond with what a 37 year old, 14 year veteran needs to play like.
3 Overseas: Brandon Rush
The 32 year old, 6'6" Missouri native is a prime candidate to play the remainder of his professional basketball career overseas. His contracts have been going up, while his numbers have been going down steadily. His numbers have been so down that he was waived by the Milwaukee Bucks in October of 2107, a month after they had signed him to a contract. After being waived, the 2008 Big Ten Tournament MVP was only able to find a 10 day contract with the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite 9 years in the league, the former 13th pick has only played in 481 games, he should have enough gas left in the tank to make a difference overseas.
2 Retire: Ronnie Price
At the age of 34 and having not played in the league during the '17-'18 season, it may not be official, but for all extensive purposes Ronnie Price is retired. In 2017 Earl Watson offered him a job on the Phoenix Suns coaching staff, but the 2005 NCAA Independent Player of the Year was not interested stating “As far as putting a cap on my career, l never even really thought about that... I think once the drive and motivation isn’t there mentally, then maybe I’ll have an answer for you." The offer is now moot, since Watson no longer coaches the Suns, so perhaps Price has even more of a reason to hang on. 'Hanging on' would be exactly what the 6'2" 12- year vet would be doing, so while it may not be official as of yet, Ronnie Price will be announcing his retirement.
1 Overseas: Spencer Hawes
The 7'1" center has carved out an honourable 10 year career in the NBA, after being the 10th selection in the 2007 NBA draft. His most productive years saw him score 13 per game while pulling down 8 rebounds. The 29 year old Seattle Washington native, however, was last seen during the 2016-2 017 season. In September '17 the '2006 Washington Mr. Basketball' was waived. In a trend during the 'small ball' era, non-elite centers are finding it difficult to remain in the league. Try as he may, he averages about 1.5 threes per game, and hits at a 35% percent clip, he was still unable to get a contract. Fortunately for the FIBA Americas U-18 champion he has earned over $45 million, so even though he is too young to retire, he can live comfortably overseas, as long as he leaves his political views in the United States.
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