The rotating doors of the NBA are seeing many former well-known stars leave the league quietly. Most players want to continue playing into their late 30s or early 40s. Dirk Nowitzki is an anomaly of stars still being healthy and fit enough to remain on an NBA roster after their 40th birthday. The current state of LeBron James is even more unlikely of a story considering he had one of the best seasons of his legendary career 15 years into the job. Most basketball stars in the same age frame or even younger will find themselves quietly leaving the NBA due to no teams wanting to take the chance on them.
There are a great deal of basketball players still trying to get signed by a team before next season. Some of the talent are playing overseas or in the Big 3 hoping to prove they have enough talent to contribute in the NBA. There are also players that had disappointing runs last season and will struggle to find work in the league this season. We will look at the stories of the basketball players that want to play in the NBA that will not have the opportunity to do so. Meanwhile, there are some former players that fans do want to see have another chance at success in the biggest basketball organization. Find out which basketball players will be blacklisted, and which fans want back. These are fifteen players fans you won’t see play in the NBA next season along with five former stars that fans want back.
20 Won’t see back: Deron Williams
The career of Deron Williams is one of the most depressing tales in NBA history. Williams was once in the argument with Chris Paul for the best overall point in the league during the late 2000s. The Utah Jazz traded him to the Brooklyn Nets, and his career was never the same.
Williams would regress after signing a max contract with Brooklyn due to injuries and a lack of desire. The most recent NBA run of Williams came for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 where he played horrible in the NBA Finals. Williams was unable to find a new team last summer and took a year off. While Deron won’t officially retire, no team wants to sign him.
19 Won’t see back: Al Jefferson
Al Jefferson had so much potential that he was the main piece the Minnesota Timberwolves wanted back in a trade to the Boston Celtics for Kevin Garnett in 2008. The work of Jefferson did give him a few great seasons as an impressive center in his prime.
A combination of growing older, injuries and the traditional center becoming outdated led to Jefferson becoming irrelevant in recent years. Following another lackluster season as a reserve for the Indiana Pacers, Jefferson received no interest as a free agent. It led to him signing to play basketball in China to end his time in the NBA.
18 Won’t see back: Andray Blatche
Andray Blatche is an extremely talented player that should have been a bigger deal in the NBA. The Washington Wizards once overpaid him massive money to be a part of their long-term future. Blatche seemed to stop working on improving leading to his NBA reputation falling apart.
Following a few years of mediocre play as a reserve, Blatche made the move to head to the Chinese Basketball Association. It was originally meant to bring up his value for an NBA return, but Blatche unfortunately could not convince NBA teams to give him a shot. Blatche even lost his spot on a CBA roster due to having a negative attitude.
17 Fans want back: Amar'e Stoudemire
The NBA career of Amar'e Stoudemire is one of the most underrated runs of the 2000s. Steve Nash rightfully gets most of the credit for the Suns changing the league for the better, but Stoudemire was right there with him as the two All-Stars playing exciting basketball.
Stoudemire left the NBA a few years ago after injuries diminished his overall play. A return to basketball sees him playing in Ice Cube’s Big 3 league right now. Stoudemire looks great in limited action and is still athletic enough to deliver damage. It would be great to see Amare have one more season in the NBA as a reserve.
16 Won’t see back: Derrick Williams
Derrick Williams was one of the top prospects in the NBA just seven years ago. The talent of Williams saw him get drafted with the second overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Williams failed to progress and become a credible NBA starter leading to Minnesota giving up on him.
The career of Williams has seen him bounce around the league for different teams. Williams played in the Chinese Basketball Association for a short time in 2017-2018 before coming back to the NBA for a spot on the Los Angeles Lakers. The 10-day contract saw him fail to do enough to sign a longer contract. That was likely Williams’ last chance in the NBA.
15 Won’t see back: Rashard Lewis
Rashard Lewis will be one of the more underrated players when looking back at the 2000s. The players to dominate the era and win titles will be remembered more fondly, but Lewis had a very good career as a former All-Star.
Lewis still has hope of returning to the NBA after a great first season in the Big 3. The inaugural season ended with Lewis winning the MVP Award, and he still looks impressive in this second season. Lewis is a bit too old and slow for the NBA today. Big 3 only using half the court means he doesn’t have to run as much and can get by with the other skills.
14 Won’t see back: Luol Deng
The Los Angeles Lakers are kicking themselves for signing Luol Deng to a huge contract a few seasons ago. Deng has become so bad that the Lakers refused to play him for 81 of the 82 regular season games this past year.
The same is likely to continue as Deng will run out his contract on the bench or receive a buyout as the Lakers attempt to build a contender with LeBron James on board. It will be tough to envision another NBA team adding Deng at any cost when he becomes a free agent. Deng will not play any more minutes in his NBA career unless something drastically changes.
13 Fans want back: Jimmer Fredette
Jimmer Fredette is remembered as one of the busts from the 2011 NBA Draft. Many expected him to continue the greatness he showed in college, but Fredette appeared overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the competition.
Fredette made the move to the Chinese Basketball League in 2016 and has been a huge success there. Averages of 37 points and 7 rebounds per game shows he is still hungry. Fredette also believes he has improved a lot during his time away from the NBA. Given he’s only 29 years old and a good outside shooter, Fredette returning to the NBA would be interesting to witness.
12 Won’t see back: Quentin Richardson
Quentin Richardson has not played in the NBA since 2013, but he does not want to give up on his passion of playing basketball. The talent of Richardson saw him contribute to many teams in the 2000s. An inability to keep up with the new stars in the early 2010s led to him being forced out of the league due to lack of interest.
Richardson made a return to competitive basketball when joining the Big 3 in this second season of the league. Most players in the Big 3 are dreaming of showing enough to get signed by an NBA team. Richardson has been away from the NBA too long to truly convince any scouts of signing him.
11 Won’t see back: Channing Frye
The life of Channing Frye was perfect as recently as two years ago. Frye was a part of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ iconic 2016 NBA Championship win and the team had great chemistry. Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors completely ended that as Cleveland needed to make moves to compete with them.
Frye was traded this past season to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have already renounced his rights and he is a free agent on the market. It will be difficult for Frye to find the right spot on a roster given the regression he has witnessed in older age. Frye at least has a great podcast and broadcasting career if he does retire.
10 Won’t see back: Ty Lawson
Ty Lawson fell from a potential All-Star caliber point guard to someone struggling to find a roster spot. Various personal issues doomed Lawson from progressing at the pace fans wanted from him. Lawson’s best season featured the impressive averages 17 points and 9 assists back in 2013-2014.
The most recent season for Lawson saw him average 6 points and 3 assists in the NBA Playoffs for the Washington Wizards. Lawson basically is a bench player at this point. The only team interested in him this offseason was the Oklahoma City Thunder, but they decided to re-sign Ray Felton as their backup point guard. Lawson will likely not be able to convince an NBA team to sign him.
9 Fans want back: Metta World Peace
Most NBA fans have positive memories towards Metta World Peace given his journey. His early career years as Ron Artest featured him looking like a future superstar. The ‘Malice at the Palace’ incident however turned things around for the negative as he was suspended for a season and was never the same.
Under the World Peace moniker, he did find a way to contribute to an NBA Championship for the Los Angeles Lakers. Metta is currently playing in the Big 3 and wants a return to the NBA. Given the wacky roster the Lakers have for the next season, it would be fun to see him join the likes of Lance Stephenson and Rajon Rondo alongside LeBron James.
8 Won’t see back: Jason Terry
Jason Terry still playing in the NBA this past season shocked a lot of fans that don’t pay attention to the Milwaukee Bucks. The veteran barely gets playing time and was mostly used as a locker room leader trying to help the young roster progress.
Terry is undecided about coming back for another season in Milwaukee. At the age of 40, it is the better bet to hang it up. Coaching is always an interesting route to transfer into if Terry is that important to teaching the Bucks. Don’t expect to see Terry on the court putting up three-pointers this upcoming season.
7 Won’t see back: Joe Johnson
The Houston Rockets added Joe Johnson to their roster this past mid-season in hopes that he could contribute to winning an NBA Championship. Johnson did not get much playing time in the postseason and did not impress when getting more time in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals with Chris Paul out.
The skills of Johnson have diminished as the former All-Star is barely able to keep up with the young stars of the league today. It is unlikely to envision any team bringing him on to spend a full season with them. Johnson will have to consider retirement or playing in another league.
6 Won’t see back: Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert is one of the few former 2-time NBA All-Stars to be out of the league by the time he turned 30. The best years of Hibbert saw him playing as a great center for the Indiana Pacers trying to compete for an NBA Championship.
A massive decline saw Hibbert fall dramatically over the years. He averaged 0.7 points per game in his final NBA run with the Denver Nuggets in 2017. Hibbert is still a free agent hoping to get another chance in the NBA. However, it is highly unlikely that he can convince any NBA team to sign him given the horrible final years of his run.
5 Fans want back: Josh Smith
Josh Smith is a unique story of an established NBA player suddenly losing his spot in the league within a couple of seasons. The talent of Smith made him an exciting star for the Atlanta Hawks. Smith even proved he could contribute to winning when playing a huge role in the Houston Rockets making the 2015 Western Conference Finals coming back from a 3-1 deficit over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Smith struggled in the seasons following that. His most recent run saw him play three games with the New Orleans Pelicans early last season before getting cut. Smith deserves another chance to at least have a respectable ending. The young age of 32 also adds hope he can still deliver some goods.
4 Won’t see back: Anthony Bennett
The career of Anthony Bennett is a very depressing one to discuss. To compare, Bennett was selected as the first overall pick in the same draft class as Victor Oladipo, Rudy Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo. All three of those stars are not even in their prime yet, but Bennett has no chance of even playing in the NBA.
The horrible play of Bennett during his time in the league saw every team to give him a chance instantly regret it. Cleveland is extremely lucky they were able to deal him in a package for Kevin Love, or it would be considered a franchise killing decision. Bennett is now playing for the G-League, but most pundits assume he will never get an NBA roster spot again.
3 Won’t see back: Richard Jefferson
NBA veteran Richard Jefferson is still thinking about his future in the sport. Jefferson won an NBA Championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 loving the set-up there, but he was traded last season. The Denver Nuggets would add Jefferson to serve as a veteran leader for their young core.
Jefferson would have to take a similar role primarily sitting on the bench if he does return for another season. There is a lot of momentum for a broadcasting career for RJ given his successful podcast and work with ESPN this summer. The safest bet is Jefferson retiring to start the next chapter of his life.
2 Won’t see back: Joakim Noah
The New York Knicks made one of the biggest mistakes in franchise history when signing Joakim Noah to a long-term deal in 2016. Noah showed signs of regressing from an MVP candidate to a mediocre player during his time with the Chicago Bulls.
New York would have settled for mediocre play. Noah continued regressing into one of the worst players in the league during his first season with the Knicks. Things got worse in his second year as Noah dealt with injuries and a suspension. The expectation is that the Knicks will keep Noah home and run out his contract without giving him the chance to play or just buy him out. No other team will risk signing such a risk.
1 Fans want back: Nate Robinson
The underdog story of Nate Robinson made him a beloved journeyman in the NBA. At just 5’8’’, Robinson is one of the shortest players in NBA history. However, his exciting play of highlight dunks and hard work ethic led to Robinson winning over many fans.
Robinson is still quite athletic and wants one more run in the NBA. The Big 3 currently has Robinson playing for them this summer, and he still looks as explosive as ever. Robinson is young enough to have a few more good seasons in the NBA. The story alone would make it worth taking the risk on Nate.