The NBA is a league that is forever evolving. After each championship, players who have never been there begin to think about what it would take to reach that level. Where would they have to go? Who would that have to team up with in order to beat the defending champs? Or is it a lost cause and maybe it is simply time to retire?
As players retire, new ones enter the league and take their places. Normally, it is a fluid transition that mostly goes unnoticed because a lot of the big names in the NBA will play until they can’t walk anymore leaving them to fading away instead of going out on top. So when a veteran retires, most fans have already moved on or forgotten about them, making the transition much cleaner.
20 Retiring: Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony might as well retire. He has nothing left that any team wants to deal with including his inability to play defense. But since the Houston Rockets decided to keep him on the roster, he needs a trade in order to be able to play again this season. As of now, no one seems willing to shell out the cash for him and the headache he seems to bring.
That means that he will continue to sit around waiting for a team to make the Rockets a trade offer, which he can veto, or he can man up and do the one thing he probably should have done last summer, retire.
19 New Player: Jeff Green
The Houston Rockets barely played Carmelo Anthony so replacing his role on the team is not going to be very difficult. By next summer, the Rockets will realize that they need someone better than Danuel House to be their starting small forward but money is going to be very, very tight.
So it will be up to finding the best value on the market for the best price in order for them to fill a gaping hole in their lineup. Jeff Green would be a great fit and has the salary and talent to fit in with exactly what they are looking to do.
18 Retiring: Raymond Felton
It is hard to imagine playing in the NBA for as long as Raymond Felton has while dealing with injuries to his hand, wrist, and ankle, as well as a few off-the-field issues that earned him a few suspensions. But he never gave up. After every injury, he came back and returned to his old self.
But over the past few years, his numbers have declined and his impact ability has gone down tremendously, almost to the point where he only gets into games when the final score has already been decided. If he wants to control his destiny than he should retire after this season and enjoy life outside of the arena.
17 New Player: Kris Wilkes
It might be a bit early to figure out who is going to be drafted and where, but we have to assume that the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to finish in the top-three spots in the Western Conference putting them in position for a late round first round draft pick next summer.
Assuming that is the case, we project they will go after UCLA's Kris Wilkes and his ability to truly play his natural position at small forward. Adding him would give their starting lineup a future star that is going to be underrated this season because of his inconsistency shooting from outside. But he would not have to worry about that in OKC, making him a great fit from day one.
16 Retiring: Tyson Chandler
Tyson Chandler is a rare talent. He was never the biggest scorer, or the league's top rebounder, but he was the best defensive center in the NBA for many seasons. He was even named the 2011-12 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and earned three different All-Defensive NBA team nominations.
This season, he turned 36 years old and is now nothing more than a veteran leader that's greatest value is his ability to play defense over a short period of time. He is not going to play 30 minutes a night anymore, he can barely get to 20 minutes. But he has value and the Lakers are going to get every ounce of it that he has left before next summer.
He has not announced anything yet but that should not stop him from changing his mind after another grueling 82 game season and even more games in the playoffs.
15 New Player: Marc Gasol
The Los Angeles Lakers might not even wait until next summer to make a play for Marc Gasol. They could end up trading for him before the deadline this season to help bolster a sluggish defense that has improved recently but could use a stud at the center position.
It could take a few key players to be moved in order to do so but, as any Lakers fan will tell you, it would be the best move they made since signing his older brother Pau Gasol. His ability to score will only make him that much more desirable for the Lakers, who would not mind the bolster on both sides of the court.
14 Retiring: Devin Harris
The real Devin Harris has not shown up since the 2011-12 season, his final year in Utah. He has been fighting for his life in the NBA since that year and has watched his minutes consistently decline on a yearly basis, but only by a couple of minutes each season. So the slow decline in playing time has allowed him the chance to continue playing to prove himself.
However, he has not been able to do so and is going to be 36 years old before this season ends. So that means the Dallas Mavericks would have to resign him next summer and that is not going to happen, there is just no reason why they would want to keep him around another season.
13 New Player: Khris Middleton
Last season, Khris Middleton was able to truly shine in one of the league's best offenses, the Milwaukee Bucks. He had been slowly progressing into the player he is this season and now is one of the NBA's best small forwards that no one seems to know about.
Statistically speaking, he is worth every penny he requests so that makes him an elite candidate in a very talented free agency field next summer. The Dallas Mavericks could be in trouble if Harrison Barnes uses his player option, but that could also lead to a possible trade next season.
Khris would be the perfect replacement for Harrison Barnes and the Mavericks know it.
12 Retiring: Pau Gasol
Although he has constantly said that he could play another few years, Pau Gasol might not get the luxury of that option giving how ineffective he has been this season. At 38 years old, what else does he really have left to prove?
In fact, he has not played a full season since the 2010-11 season. He missed five games last season and has already missed time this year due to injury. His knees are not going to get any stronger and he is still among the top 20 centers in yearly salary averages. That makes him a very big problem for San Antonio's 2019 summer.
11 New Player: Brook Lopez
Brook Lopez is just a couple years removed from averaging 20 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks per game. But it was his outside shooting that has turned him into one of the better centers in the league. He is still one of the best outside shooting centers in the NBA and the Milwaukee Bucks have him for one year on a very cheap discounted price.
His deal remains one of the biggest steals in the NBA this year. So he will have a good chance at signing something long-term next summer for a team that is in need of a center. If Pau Gasol ends up retiring, which we already said we think he will, then the Spurs will need a big man at a good price and Brook Lopez is that man.
10 Retiring: J.R. Smith
It did not take very long before J.R. Smith made himself the center of attention in Cleveland after LeBron James left for LA. Although this time it was not because of his blunder in the NBA Finals. He quickly became the center of attention after demanding a trade. It took them a few weeks before finally putting him on the shelf until they are able to figure something out for him.
As of now, it is not looking that good for him as the Cavaliers have already stated his time with them is through. He has been in the league since he was 19 years old and has 15 years experience and an NBA title. He might not have much more to give that is worth the struggle of playing on a terrible team. His retirement was even considered a few years back when he clearly mentioned how he wanted to retire in Cleveland.
9 New Player: R.J. Barrett
When it comes to college basketball, a true freshman, that could have made the leap to the NBA straight out of high school, gets better every single game. This is the case for R.J. Barrett, who has just been on fire at Duke this season. He continues to get better, regardless of who they play.
But even the great ones have weaknesses and his are very obvious. He is left-handed and has trouble switching to his right, which can be fixed. He is also not the best set shooter which is why he struggles at the free throw line, but that is also fixable. His natural ability to score the basketball makes him one of the next big stars to enter the NBA next year, and he should also go pretty high in the draft too.
8 Retiring: Jamal Crawford
Before this season comes to an end, Jamal Crawford will be celebrating his 39th birthday, making him the third oldest player in the NBA. So what is left for the three time NBA Sixth Man of the Year award winner to prove?
He is playing for the Phoenix Suns this season and that means he is not going to be winning any titles anytime soon. After signing a one-year deal for the league minimum, it is also not about the money either. The only reason he could possibly have for joining the Suns is because he cannot give up the game. His numbers are not even worth enough to consider him useful at his age so the only thing the Suns get is his locker room presence.
7 New Player: Zion Williamson
At 6'7", 285 pounds, Zion Williamson will be the second heaviest player in the NBA next season, just a few pounds behind Boban Marjanovic, who is 7'3" and weighs 290 pounds. But what makes Zion such an amazing talent is his 41" vertical leap, which is also a Duke school record. It defies everything we have ever seen in the sport.
His athleticism has turned him into a national phenomena but he is not just a spectacle, he is a very good basketball player that does whatever you need him to do to get the job done. If you need points, he can take over and stretch the floor with his shooting. If you need a defensive stop, he will give up his body to get a loose ball or take a charge. He does whatever he needs to do in order to make the play.
He will be a top-three draft pick next summer and could even end up as the top overall pick when all is said and done.
6 Retiring: Dwyane Wade
The 2003 NBA Draft continues to be one of the greatest drafts in professional sports history. There was so much talent in the top ten, it's hard to think that Dwyane Wade was taken fifth overall.
16 years later, all the teams that passed on Dwyane Wade continue to regret their decision, especially the Detroit Pistons. That's because it only took him three years to win a NBA title, the first in franchise history. He did it by showcasing his full range of abilities, shooting, passing, defending, rebounding, and running an offense. He could do it all and would eventually go on to win three total NBA Championships.
He is a first ballot Hall of Famer that deserves the upmost respect and all the praise in the world.
5 New Player: J.J. Redick
As hard as it is to believe, at 34 years old, J.J. Redick is having his most productive season since joining the NBA back in 2006. His ability to score from anywhere on the court with his quick release and strong accuracy has made him very valuable at this point in his career and there will be plenty of teams that would be thrilled to have him next season.
The Miami Heat struggle in so many areas that they would be very happy to have a shooter join their lineup. He could add some very quick firepower to a team that has not been able to come together as one but has a ton of talent, mostly young and inexperienced.
4 Retiring: Vince Carter
There aren't many people that would have guessed that Vince Carter would still be playing in the NBA at 42 years old, let alone being a contributing factor for his team. But that is why Vince Carter is such a stud, and a future Hall of Famer. He is simply just better than a lot of people and is holding a roster spot not because of his name, but because he is earning it.
But that has to eventually come to an end, right? He is, after all, playing for the Atlanta Hawks, who do not have much of a chance at making it to the NBA Finals anytime soon. All he is doing now is helping the young guys learn how to transition to the NBA while providing a few points here and there. If he does make it through the entire season this year, he should retire by next summer before his knees fall off.
3 New Player: Rui Hachimura
When NBA scouts evaluate incoming prospects, they look for a few different things. They look for explosiveness, a prototypical body type, a consistent jump shot, character, and court awareness. Those are the main features, among several others, that can quickly tell a scout just how good a prospect might be in the big leagues.
Rui Hachimura can pretty much check off every single one of those boxes if he can become more consistent. He has a tendency to have great games followed by mediocre ones. If he cleans that up, which he will as he continues to mature, he just might the steal of the draft. If he is available for the Hawks, he would be the perfect fit and a much-needed addition to their improving roster.
2 Retiring: Tony Parker
The time has come for Tony Parker to call it a career and hang up his jersey. He has nothing left to prove after 18 seasons and four NBA championships. He has also been a six-time NBA All-Star, four-time All-NBA, and one-time Finals MVP. He averaged 15.8 points, 5.7 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game while in San Antonio but could watch that average continue to fall the longer he sticks around the NBA.
His contract could end up being terminated following this season anyways, so the decision could be made for him a lot quicker than he is ready to make. Assuming he meets with the Charlotte Hornets front office and gets a chance to decide for himself, we think he makes the move to retire before being released.
1 Keeping: Kemba Walker
Yes, we know that this article is about these teams new players next year but hear us out with this one. Kemba Walker is easily the best player in team history and is widely considered one of the best point guards in the game today. So when this season comes to an end, he will be worth a ton of money and there could be a lot of teams making offers for him too.
The problem for the Charlotte Hornets is in their payroll. They simply will not have a lot of money to work with unless they make a few moves and one of them includes Tony Parker retiring. If he does not retire, they might have to release him anyways to free up $5 million in cash for next season.