The evolution of the NBA is seeing the league become more athletic than ever. Almost every top star is a freak athlete with gifts that most of us can’t even comprehend on the basketball court. Players are shooting from deeper than they have at any point in NBA history. The pace is faster with the speed of these athletes making it a nearly different game from the slower eras like the early 2000s. Another huge asset for the league is that there are rising young stars taking over the game. LeBron James and Kevin Durant have been on top for quite some time now. However, the ascension of players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, and many others has changed the landscape.
Older players and mediocre talents can no longer easily keep up with the rest of the NBA. Every team is trying to build a roster of mostly young players that can push the tempo and use their athleticism to their advantage. The veterans are seeing their talent diminish with the aging process. Prior eras could have seen them play longer, but the competition today makes it tougher. We will look at every NBA team today to find the player closest to retirement. Find out which of your favorite players could be gone soon. These are the players from each NBA roster that is most likely to retire first.
30 Atlanta Hawks: Vince Carter
Vince Carter has not made any statements about retiring after this season, but fans are treating it as his final year in the NBA. Both the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets made video highlights celebrating his career as the fans from his former homes showered him with love.
Carter is playing limited minutes with the Atlanta Hawks this season as the oldest active player in the league. The safest bet is that Carter will retire to officially end his career and join the broadcasting world. There are fans hoping Carter is traded or bought out so he can play for a contender and possibly get a ring in his final season.
29 Boston Celtics: Aron Baynes
The Boston Celtics don’t have any realistic choices for retirement with a very young roster. Aron Baynes is the most likely option for someone having to retire sooner than later. Baynes is one of the least valuable players on the Celtics team.
There is a possible scenario where teams just don’t want to sign or add Baynes to their rotation. A retirement could come in a few years by being forced out of the league rather than having the choice on his own. Boston clearly doesn’t need him given the depth with young talent.
28 Brooklyn Nets: Jared Dudley
The youth of the Brooklyn Nets have made them a standout team to watch this season. Young assets like D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert, and Spencer Dinwiddie have a bright future ahead for the Nets. However, there are a few veterans on the roster for the depth.
Jared Dudley is the player most likely to retire within the next couple of seasons. The long tenure in the NBA has seen Dudley bounce around on many different teams. Dudley is clearly slower and struggles to keep up with the new young stars. His retirement should be coming faster than any other Net.
27 Charlotte Hornets: Tony Parker
Tony Parker surprised the NBA world by leaving the San Antonio Spurs to join the Charlotte Hornets in free agency. The legendary career of Parker has seen him win four NBA Championships and an NBA Finals MVP in San Antonio.
Spurs management wanted to transition him into a coach to end his career, but Parker wanted to keep playing and making money. Charlotte offered a better contract and he has played well for them off the bench. Parker still does struggle to keep up with younger point guards and should retire within a season or two.
26 Chicago Bulls: Robin Lopez
The Chicago Bulls are trying to rebuild and find success in the league with young potential stars. There are many players that have showed promise like Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Kris Dunn. However, a few veterans that don’t have much to offer are on the roster as well.
Robin Lopez is the one likely to retire sooner than later. The changes in the NBA has seen outside shooting become pivotal. Big men are draining three-pointers, including Robin’s twin brother, Brook. Unfortunately, Robin doesn’t have the shooting touch and is a weakness on the floor if playing more than reserve minutes.
25 Cleveland Cavaliers: Channing Frye
The Cleveland Cavaliers are once again looking to find a new path back to relevance after becoming an awful team without LeBron James. Cleveland has already traded a few veterans as they look to give playing time to the younger stars.
Channing Frye is one of the veterans that will be transitioned out of the rotation soon. The 36th birthday of Frye is approaching this season, as he will be among the older players in the league. Frye doesn’t make a difference for any roster and may have to retire at the end of the season.
24 Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki has struggled to make his way on the court this season, only playing a handful of games as coach Rick Carlisle manages his minutes. Dallas Mavericks fans are treating Nowitzki with love as if it is his final season despite not making an official decision either way about his future.
The body of Nowitzki is no longer able to play the NBA schedule. Many speculated Dirk wanted to make sure the future of the franchise was in good hands before retiring. Luka Doncic looking like a superstar and taking the torch from Nowitzki to carry the franchise could give him more incentive to retire happily.
23 Denver Nuggets: Isaiah Thomas
The Denver Nuggets are in a great position right now. They are one of the top NBA teams in the first half of the season and have a roster full of young talents that should only get better. One player that may be on the outside looking in is Isaiah Thomas.
It was only a few seasons ago that Thomas has MVP contention with the Boston Celtics. A trade and injury issues have seen fall drastically in NBA perception. If Thomas doesn’t get playing time and doesn’t showcase great play during his minutes, there’s a realistic chance he would be forced to retire with no teams wanting to add him.
22 Detroit Pistons: Jose Calderon
Jose Calderon is among the oldest players in the league at 37-years-old. The Detroit Pistons have Calderon on the roster as point guard depth with a weakness at the position. Calderon’s older age has him moving slower as the point guard position continues to evolve with young athletic stars.
It would be a surprise if this was not the final season for Calderon. His career is quite underrated given, that he used to be one of the better facilitators in the league. Calderon can’t stick around much longer in such a competitive league.
21 Golden State Warriors: Andre Iguodala
The Golden State Warriors are the favorites to win a fourth NBA Championship in five seasons and three in a row. Andre Iguodala has been an important part of the run, especially when he won the 2015 NBA Finals MVP.
The career of Iguodala is towards the end of the road. Iguodala has dealt with some injuries in recent years and his play has regressed a little. There have been hints from Iggy that he wants to retire within a few seasons to leave before he is unable to contribute in the way he wants to.
20 Houston Rockets: Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony remains on the Houston Rockets roster to start 2019 with no teams showing any interest in trading for him. The legendary career of Anthony is looking like it will end in depressing fashion after the Rockets shut him down due to not wanting him in their rotation.
There is a chance that a buyout may occur to give Anthony one more chance on another team. Regardless, it seems like retirement will be coming for Melo as quickly as the end of this season.
19 Indiana Pacers: Darren Collison
The Indiana Pacers are one of the younger teams on the list with most of their roster in their prime or not even there yet due to the young ages. However, there is one player that may be trending toward leaving the league within a few seasons.
Darren Collison is the starting point guard for the Pacers and their biggest weakness. The play of Collison is better served as a backup and even that may be pushing it in a few years. Collison has some gas left in the tank, but he will be the first player on the Pacers roster to eventually retire.
18 Los Angeles Clippers: Marcin Gortat
The Washington Wizards gave up on Marcin Gortat last offseason after realizing he was not the center they expected him to be for them. Gortat has regressed even more this season during his time on the Los Angeles Clippers.
One of the reasons for the Clippers being a surprise breakout team is that they barely play Gortat. He does start at center for them, but he usually plays minimal minutes as Montrezl Harrell plays the important minutes. Gortat no longer has a place in the NBA and should be retired in a season or two.
17 Los Angeles Lakers: Tyson Chandler
The roster of the Los Angeles Lakers features a mix of young prospects and veteran reserves complimenting LeBron James. Tyson Chandler is one of the veterans on the roster to sign after getting bought out by the Phoenix Suns.
Chandler's acquisition has helped the Lakers, with his defense still bringing something to the table. Unfortunately, the fact that he's turning 37 means he'll only get limited minutes on the court, especially with Ivica Zubac's recent late-game scoring outbursts. Chandler does not have much gas left in the tank and might retire as soon as this upcoming offseason.
16 Memphis Grizzlies: Joakim Noah
Many NBA fans didn’t even realize that Joakim Noah has returned to the court. The New York Knicks bought him out before the season and Noah is now a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. Any hope for Noah going back to his old days as a top center is over.
Noah only delivers a handful of points and rebounds per game in limited action. It will be hard to see any teams wanting to give him a chance after he is showing the same below-average play. Noah had a good career, but the time for him to retire is coming very soon.
15 Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem
Two players for the Miami Heat have already announced that they will retire. Dwyane Wade plans to end his legendary career after this season. The return to Miami last season was for the best and Wade wants to spend one full season in Miami before hanging it up.
Udonis Haslem is always viewed as a legend to Heat fans after a strong role in the 2006 NBA Championship and the year's he's spent as a reserve since them. Both Wade and Haslem will get to end their careers together in what will be a special moment for all Miami fans who loved to watch them.
14 Milwaukee Bucks: George Hill
The Milwaukee Bucks have a fun roster of young talents led by MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. The team, however, added one familiar veteran when they traded for George Hill as their backup point guard.
Hill has regressed over the past few seasons and is still getting over missing a potential game-winning free throw in Game 1 of the NBA Finals last year. The man is past his prime, so don’t expect him to ever be a full-time starter again. Hill will likely be retired within the next three to four years as well.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves: Luol Deng
The career of Luol Deng fell apart faster than anyone could have expected. Deng was an All-Star for the Chicago Bulls, but the high minutes played per game would age him faster than most others. The Los Angeles Lakers signed Deng to a huge contract and regretted it immediately as he fell apart.
Deng is now on the Minnesota Timberwolves bench, rarely getting any playing time at all. The career of Deng appears to be at the end as no teams want to play him. Deng will not be able to get a new contract during the offseason and may officially retire because of it.
12 New Orleans Pelicans: Wesley Johnson
The New Orleans Pelicans have a roster full of relatively young players with hopes of everyone blossoming into capable pieces around Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. Wesley Johnson is one of the older players for New Orleans that may be trending out of the league.
When Johnson entered the NBA, there were hopes of All-Star status as he was picked fourth overall, but he’s been a below-average role player. Johnson will not get too many more opportunities with new players entering the league and fewer spots available for someone that barely contributes.
11 New York Knicks: Courtney Lee
New York Knicks fans have high hopes entering the offseason with a lot of cap space available to add two major players. Courtney Lee is one of the players expected to be off the books as the Knicks have no interest in keeping him beyond this season.
The veteran play of Lee could make him an adequate bench piece, but he no longer offers much on the court. Lee may get another shot as a reserve for a contending team in need of a three-and-D guy. However, the odds are in him retiring within the next few seasons given his regression.
10 Oklahoma City Thunder: Raymond Felton
The lack of depth for the Oklahoma City Thunder was an issue last season with many jokes about Raymond Felton getting consistent playing time. Felton is approaching 35 and is one of the least athletic point guards going today after falling out of shape through the years.
The career of Felton is coming to an end as it is hard to envision teams wanting to add him to the roster. Felton was once viewed as a solid backup, but any team giving him strong playing time these days will be in for a world of trouble.
9 Orlando Magic: Timofey Mozgov
Timofey Mozgov has bounced around the NBA over the past few years due to his bad contract. The run with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the benefits of playing with LeBron James would see Mozgov get a huge contract by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Mozgov was so bad for the Lakers that they traded D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets just so they would take his contract too. Orlando now has Mozgov on the roster, with minutes few and far between. Retirement may be the only choice for Mozgov when his contract expires since teams don’t even want to play him despite paying the big bucks.
8 Philadelphia 76ers: Amir Johnson
The two realistic options for a near retirement on the Philadelphia 76ers are J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson. Redick is older by a few years, but the importance of three-point shooting, as well as his strong play, may keep him around. Philadelphia has seen the best two seasons of Redick’s career this late due to the landscape of the current NBA needing more three-point shots.
Johnson has less to offer to NBA teams since his offense is lacking and his defense isn’t dominant enough to make up for the weaknesses. There won’t be many offers for Johnson in free agency and he could be out of the league in the next two or three seasons.
7 Phoenix Suns: Jamal Crawford
Jamal Crawford was almost forced to retire this past offseason until the Phoenix Suns signed him right before the season started. The incredible offensive game of Crawford in his prime made him arguably the best bench player of all time, but his game has regressed quite a bit.
Crawford is approaching 39-years-old and will be unlikely to receive more offers next offseason. Retirement should come to Crawford by the offseason. The only places for him to play would be overseas leagues or vanity projects like the Big 3.
6 Portland Trail Blazers: Evan Turner
The Portland Trail Blazers have one of the youngest teams in the NBA. Even the players that struggle to get playing time have potential to get more opportunities in the league when their contracts expire. Evan Turner will be the veteran that will see his value diminish soon.
The contract given to Turner by Portland was huge and hurt the franchise from adding another true contributor to improve the roster. Turner rarely delivers on the court and has become a huge disappointment for the Trail Blazers. He may have to retire in a few seasons with the way his career is trending.
5 Sacramento Kings: Zach Randolph
Zach Randolph has not played a game this season for the Sacramento Kings as the team benched him to start the year and have expressed no interest to bring him back. Sacramento wants to give all their playing time to the young prospects on the roster to find out who can become part of their future.
Randolph is sitting at home while collecting the full pay from his contract. There is a chance he will get traded to a team looking for a veteran reserve. However, the future of Randolph is not going to have many more great moments. Randolph is 37-years-old and should retire in the next offseason or two.
4 San Antonio Spurs: Pau Gasol
It has been almost a decade since Pau Gasol won his first NBA Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009. Gasol was a great big man in his prime and will likely be inducted into the Hall of Fame. That induction should take place sooner than later.
Gasol rarely plays much these days for the San Antonio Spurs. Injuries kept him sidelined to start the season and he barely plays much when healthy. Gasol can no longer produce on a consistent level and will have to retire soon. This season (or the next one) will likely be the final of his career.
3 Toronto Raptors: Greg Monroe
Greg Monroe is only 28-years-old, but his days of being a difference maker are over. The career of Monroe trended downhill relatively quickly. Monroe was expected to become an All-Star caliber center. Unfortunately for him, the league changed with big men no longer able to just camp out and post up in the paint.
The Toronto Raptors currently have Monroe on the roster as a backup. Injury issues to others have given him more playing time than the organization expected. Regardless, Monroe is not a long-term part of the franchise and few other teams will have any interest in him. The career of Monroe will end in the next few seasons via retirement.
2 Utah Jazz: Kyle Korver
The recent focus on three-point shooting is the only reason Kyle Korver is still in the NBA. Korver’s only noteworthy skill set compared to his peers in the league is being one of the better outside shooters of the current era.
The Utah Jazz traded for Korver in hopes of utilizing him in the playoffs. Korver can’t play too many minutes, but he does still can hit his shots. Sadly, the other flaws to his game will overrule the shooting soon. Korver should retire either this upcoming offseason or 2020.
1 Washington Wizards: Dwight Howard
The Washington Wizards added Dwight Howard in the offseason with the hope of him putting them over the top to contend in the Eastern Conference. Washington, however, has become the most disappointing team in the East and Howard has rarely played for them.
Injury issues continue to hurt Howard as most expect the Wizards to let him go in free agency this offseason. Howard has played for three teams in three seasons and will need a new home. Between the injuries, poor play and a bad reputation in NBA circles, Howard may be forced to retire as soon as this upcoming offseason.