As the NBA regular season races towards to its conclusion, players are either preparing for a deep playoff-run into June, or booking tee-times at their golf courses. No matter their teams' result this year, like clockwork, training camps will kick-off in just a few short months, and players will ready themselves for the grind of the marathon, known as the NBA season.
While those in the prime of their careers look forward to another season of stuffing the stat-sheets and hungry rookies get all “bright eyed and bushy tailed” at the idea of making a name for themselves in the league, there are also those who may feel as though they’ve had enough of all of the early morning workouts, the travelling, and the back-to-back games.
Those in the twilight of their careers, no matter how illustrious, have lost a step, or two…or three. They can no longer rely on the same athleticism that once brought them their their trophies, or their past glory. Many high-flyers become spot-up shooters, while even those destined for the Hall of Fame, linger at the end of benches, hoping to provide leadership to a team gunning for a title.
Sometimes it’s just time for a player to “hang em’ up”, and ride off into the sunset. It’s time to look into our crystal ball and see which of these 16 NBA vets will call it quits, or be back next year to chase rings, records, and as Jalen Rose says, “to keep cashin' them cheques”.
16 Will Retire: Manu Ginobili
At 40 years old, Manu is definitely taking his final bow on what has been an incredible NBA career. The Argentinian is a 2-time all-star, and like Parker, a 4-time NBA champ. Another miraculous 2nd round find by the San Antonio Spurs, Ginobili has a reputation for getting the job done, late in games, especially in the playoffs, where he always seems to find a way to elevate his game. He accomplished all of this while coming off the bench, and acting as one of the best (if not the best), 6th men in NBA history.
Unfortunately, it seems as though father time has finally caught up to Ginobili, as he has posted the lowest PER (12.4) of his career. If I had to guess, I'd say that Manu will follow Tim Duncan into retirement. The game will surely miss him... and all of his famous, yet well-timed flopping.
15 Surprisingly Won't: Vince Carter
A famous former Raptor at 41 years of age, "Vinsanity" is currently the eldest statesman in the NBA. In his 20th season, Vince is still throwing down two-handed jams, and taking tough shots over defenders. Though a long cry from his glory days on Toronto and New Jersey where he racked up 8 all-star appearances, a dunk contest win, and ownership of the number 1 spot on most highlight reels, Carter still proves to be useful as a veteran voice on young (Sacramento) or playoff bound (Memphis) teams.
Despite his age, Vince is still in incredible shape, and will not be retiring this offseason. Besides, the basketball world, specifically Canadian fans, won't be satisfied until he bookends his illustrious career with a much-needed reunion tour with the Raptors.
14 Will Retire: Pau Gasol
The elder Gasol brother has quite the list of accolades to claim to his name; most notably, 6 all-star appearances, a Rookie of the Year award, and 2 NBA titles. Since gaining recognition with the Memphis Grizzlies, and then painting it gold with the Lakers, Gasol has teamed up with Greg Popovitch and the Spurs in an attempt to fight father-time. The attempt has mostly worked for the 37 year old, as he looks to help get the Spurs into the playoffs.
All that being said, Gasol has many interests and aspirations beyond the game of basketball, specifically relating to medicine and classical music. With not much left to accomplish on the court, and plenty to pursue off of it, one might think that barring a potential team-up with his brother Marc, Pau might be happy to call it a career with his body still in tact.
13 Surprisingly Won't: Tony Parker
The best NBA player to ever come from France is a 6-time all-star, and has won 4 NBA titles (which he was named MVP for one of them). Parker had the privilege of getting to spend his entire career playing point-guard for Greg Popovitch, most of which spanned during the Tim Duncan era. He could easily call it a career, and wait for the the Hall of Fame to enshrine him - but he won't...
In 2016, Parker told The Vertical that he "wants to play five more seasons after this one". By my count, that takes Tony's career to 2021, where he will likely still be mentoring late draft picks, soon to be all-stars, much like a 2001-2002 version of himself. Unfortunately, for him - I don't think we can say the same about his longtime teammate, who happens to be the next guy on this list...
12 Will Retire: Jameer Nelson
Whether you remember him most for his NCAA heroics at St. Joe's, or for his improbable finals run with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic, Jameer Nelson always seemed to get the most out of his game. The 36 year old has had a stellar NBA career, and even managed to sneak into the 2008-09 all-star game as a reserve for a pretty weak Eastern Conference team.
This year however, Nelson was flipped from the Pelicans to the hard-to-watch Detroit Pistons, where he serves as a role player, which wouldn't be a bad thing if he wasn't shooting the rock at a 28% clip. The prediction is that the 14 year vet will be retiring at the end of the season - to which one would say "what a career Jameer".
11 Surprisingly Won't: Jason Terry
Unlike some entries on this list, "The Jet" is very well-travelled, Playing for 6 teams, since being drafted 10th overall by the Atlanta Hawks in 1999. Currently in his 19th season, Terry has built a reputation for being an effective bench presence on some pretty good basketball teams. While his accomplishments, aren't Springfield worthy, his 2008-09 Sixth Man of the Year award, and his role on the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks, are nothing to snicker at.
2017-18 however will not be Terry's last season, as he has repeatedly said that he intends on making it to 20 years in the league. Bad math withstanding, 19 seasons, plus 1 more, equals 20. Guess that means, "The Jet" won't be landing this offseason.
10 Will Retire: David West
Since being drafted by the then New Orleans Hornets in the famed 2003 draft, David West has built a career out of being an effective post player. His bruising style led him to 2 all-star games, and multiple playoff appearances with the Hornets and Pacers, before finally settling down as a ring-chasing veteran with the Spurs, and now the Warriors.
This is the 15th season for the rugged West, and although he's still very effective in the 14 minutes a game that he does play, he has refused to commit to playing beyond this season. The big man has stated that "he will just wait and see how my body feels and how my mind feels. We’re a long way from now”. It's easy to envision a scenario where West wakes up in September feeling a little battered after another Golden State title run, and calls it a career.
9 Surprisingly Won't: Kyle Korver
Believe it or not, this is Kyle Korver's 15th season slinging it from deep. After stops in Philly, Utah, Chicago, and Atlanta, Korver got sent to Cleveland at last year's trade deadline to help spread the floor for Lebron James and Co. Is it possible that the well-travelled 3-PT shooting, Ashton Kutcher lookalike, who just turned 37 years old, may perhaps be thinking about retirement?
Doubtful. Korver currently has one of the best gigs in the NBA - stand there, look pretty, wait for Lebron to dish you the ball, and shoot it. Standing beyond on the arc for 20 minutes a game, doesn't involve all that much physical exertion, not to mention that he's owed over 7 million dollars per year until 2020. Keep stroking Kyle, keep stroking.
8 Will Retire: Richard Jefferson
Despite spending the latter part of his career doing a bit of "ring-chasing", once upon a time, Jefferson was a core member of some pretty good New Jersey Nets teams. Despite never making an all-star game, Jefferson always made his impact felt, averaging as much as 22.6 points per game playing alongside Jason Kidd and Vince Carter, in 2007-08.
Lately though, Jefferson hasn't been filling up many scoresheets. This season he's played in only 20 games for the Denver Nuggets, averaging just over 8 minutes a game. After nearly retiring before the start of this year, the smart money says his career will over after the season. At least Jefferson managed to capture that elusive ring in 2016, while serving as one of Lebron's running-mates.
7 Surprisingly Won't: Zach Randolph
This is year 17 patrolling the paint for "Z-Bo", who after playing for Portland, New York, and the Clippers, found a home as the heart and soul of the "Grind City" Memphis Grizzlies that never broke through to the promised land, but were among the most well respected teams in the league. It's still weird turning on the T.V. and seeing him in a Sacramento Kings uniform... (just kidding, no one watches the Kings on T.V.)
Will there be a year 18? One would have to think, yes. Randolph recently "hired a chef to help him lose weight and eat healthier, and wants to play a few more years, but admits to pondering the NBA afterlife". Ponder all you want, Zach, but we'll see you on the court in 2018-19.
6 Will Retire: Udonis Haslem
In today's sporting landscape, it's very rare to find a player and a management team who are willing to make it work, so that they can stay together. While over 50% of marriages end in divorce, Udonis Haslem and the Miami Heat are still left in holy matrimony. Haslem has been with the Heat so long, he was with the original D-Wade led "superteam" (with the"Big Fella"). Throughout his tenure in South Beach, Udonis has gone from being a relied upon starter, once averaging over 36 minutes a game (2007-08), to a team mentor, teaching the young Heat players how to be a true pro.
Unfortunately, all good things come to and end. After 15 seasons, and 3 championships in Miami, the crystal ball says that Haslem will call it quits (perhaps along with a fellow Heat teammate, named further down this list...).
5 Surprisingly Won't: Joe Johnson
It seems like forever ago that Joe Johnson was the 4th banana on those famous "Seven Seconds Or Less" Phoenix Suns teams. After leaving Steve Nash and company, it felt as if Johnson had entirely separate careers on both the Atlanta Hawks (where he got paid), and then on the Brooklyn Nets (where he got paid again...). Currently Joe is trying to help the Houston Rockets win a title, after being bought out of his contract (in which he managed to secure a 3rd large contract). See the trend here?
Despite this being year 17 in the league, Johnson has no plans to call it quits. Last year he said he wasn't even remotely considering retiring. Quite frankly, who could blame him? Judging from his past experiences in free agency, someone might just give him 15 million dollars by accident...
4 Will Retire: Chris Bosh
This may be cheating a bit, but even though the Miami Heat have retired his jersey, Bosh has claimed time and time again that he himself, isn't retired...yet. Bosh was forced to step away from the game due to blood clots, and the actual possibility of him dying on the court. Despite being ruled out by the medical community, the NBA, and the players association, CB4 is determined to make a return to the hardwood. From a basketball stand-point, who can blame him? Since being drafted 4th overall in the loaded 2003 draft, Bosh has done nothing short of dominate statistically. He made 11 all-star teams with both the Heat, and the Raptors - while winning 2 titles in South Beach...not 3, not 4, not 5.
That being said, the potential risks and impacts on his family would be too great. For Bosh's sake, hopefully talk of a potential comeback, is just that.
3 Surprisingly Won't: Tyson Chandler
Since being drafted 2nd overall in the 2001 draft, Tyson has been an absolute defensive terror on the NBA. The former defensive player of the year has had quite the career, which includes a championship title with the Dallas Mavericks (which featured another few of the old dudes from this list), and the infamous distinction of being part of the short-lived "Baby Bulls" along with Eddy Curry (where did he go?).
The smart money says that Chandler has 13.5 million reasons why he won't retire until after next season. Besides, despite being 35 years old, Tyson can still grab a ton of boards, and block a ton of shots. He's proving that even in the era of "stretch 4's and 5's", there's still room for an old man to do some defensive work in the paint.
2 Will Retire: Dwyane Wade
Due to the turmoil/inefficiencies of the past few seasons, it's easy to forget how dominant Wade was during his heyday. The 36 year old is a long cry from the 12-time all star, and 3-time scoring champ that he once was. Before forgettable tenures in Chicago and to Cleveland, where he wouldn't even last the whole season in his reunion with Lebron, "D-Wade" owned South Beach - bringing the city 3 NBA titles - one while still a young back, carrying Shaq to his first only post-L.A. championship, and two more after he took a bit of a back-seat to "The King" in his own kingdom.
Now that he got to return to Miami for one last playoff run, one has to think that this is Wade's "last ride", before calling it a career, and taking on the role of Gabrielle Union's "househusband". Thanks for all the memories D-Wade. See you in the Hall of Fame.
1 Surprisingly Won't: Dirk Nowitzki
One of the greatest players of his generation, Dirk combined his size and a sweet shooting stroke to paint one beautiful career. 13 all-star appearances, the 2006-07 MVP award, and most importantly the 2010-11 NBA championship (and finals MVP), which separates him for all of the other greats who never managed to win that elusive title. He even managed to find time to secure a Calvin Cambridge autograph for his niece, "Dirk". Oh, and he managed to do all of that while staying with the same team that took a chance on a lanky German kid, by trading Robert Traylor to the Bucks for his services at the 1998 draft.
At nearly 40 years old, no one would blame him for walking away to start preparing his Hall of Fame speech, but that won't be the case this offseason. Despite needing ankle surgery, Nowitzki said he plans on returning for a 21st season with the Mavs. To that, Dallas fans say "Danke".