It’s that time of the year again, folks! The NBA season is coming to an end, teams are jockeying for playoff positioning, and players are contemplating where they’ll be next season. Some players will be looking for a big payday while the league is in the midst of its new CBA while other players will pull a David West and sacrifice the money for a chance for a ring. However, there is another group of players who may not even realize it, but their NBA days are coming to an end. They won’t even be offered a contract, or a contract to their liking, and will be forced to do something they probably never even considered and that is to continue their pro basketball career overseas.
Playing basketball overseas is not as bad as many players think it is. You still get to play the game you love, make millions of dollars (as opposed to tens of millions in the NBA), and you can even become a national icon like Stephon Marbury did in China. It’s more so the stigma that NBA players have where they look down at any non-NBA league as the “minor leagues.” That notion may very well be true, but heading overseas may also be the only option for many players. The clock is ticking on the NBA careers of some of your favorite players so here are 15 NBA players that need to head overseas.
15 Chris “Birdman” Andersen
It’s hard to believe, but Birdman will be 39 years old this summer! He was one of the five oldest players in the NBA this past season with the Cavs until he was traded and then released after a season-ending injury. He’s nearly 40, is coming off a torn ACL, and no longer fits into today’s NBA game of pace-and-space; the Birdman should take flight and head to the far east of China.
It seems as though Birdman has already been preparing for a move to China as he has a Chinese symbol tattooed on each forearm. The one on the left stands for “good” while the one on the right stands for “evil.” With Marbury saying he’d like to play one more season in the NBA, can’t you just see Marbury throwing lobs to Birdman in front of a frenzied Chinese Basketball Association crowd? It’s not quite “LeBron to Birdman” but Anderson will have to take whatever he can get.
14 Omer Asik
Not only do I and most NBA fans think Asik should head overseas, I’m fairly positive that the Pelicans WANT Asik to head overseas. He has three more years on his contract that will pay him an astounding $33.6 million over the rest of his deal. The Turkish big man wasn’t producing when he was on the court (2.7 PPG) and now the Pelicans have no need for him after trading for DeMarcus Cousins.
This offseason the Pelicans will do everything they can to unload his contract and may even throw in a draft pick or young player in a trade in order to do so. Asik won’t be getting $10.6 million next year overseas like he will from New Orleans, but if they do cut bait, then a return to his native Turkey would be the best option.
13 Rajon Rondo
Rondo checks all of the boxes in terms of factors for heading overseas. He’s an aging player who isn’t a good fit for today’s game and has worn out his welcome for every team he’s played for. The only team and fan base that every embraced him, Boston, is set at the point guard position and isn’t in the market for his services. From a basketball standpoint, Rondo’s game seems like a perfect fit for the European leagues or the CBA. He could be the Russell Westbrook of the CBA with the numbers that less-talented players put up there. Heading to a new country will also give Rondo the chance to display his Connect Four dominance to a whole new group of fans.
12 Mike Miller
In this episode of guys you didn’t know were still in the NBA…say hello to Mike Miller! Miller is still getting them checks as a member of the Denver Nuggets and has made $175,000 for every point he’s scored this season. Unless James Jones retires and opens up the “LeBron’s Buddy” roster spot for the Cavs, Miller is likely spending his last few days on an NBA roster. They say that the last NBA skill a player loses is his shooting touch so Miller can still get buckets in whichever league he’s a part of. Born and raised in South Dakota, Miller is obviously comfortable living anywhere, so why not take a trip to the Philippines where Miller can own all of the pet monkeys he wants.
11 Michael Beasley
Who would have thought that the unstoppable force that Beasley was at Kansas State would become fringe NBA player just a decade later? The former No. 2 overall pick has bounced from team to team including two teams in the Chinese Basketball Association. While in the CBA, Beasley put up numbers more akin to his K-State days rather than his NBA days. In two seasons he’s averaged 30 points per game and 12 rebounds per game. He was also a two-time CBA All-Star and was named the league’s foreign MVP after the 2015-16 season.
It’s an interesting debate that someone like Beasley will have to ask himself after the season: Would I rather be the 10th man on an NBA team or the superstar on a team in China? Marbury made his pick and hasn’t looked back since then so perhaps Beasley follows suit.
10 Rodney Stuckey
Just cut from the Pacers so they could sign Lance Stephenson; Stuckey may end up overseas by the time I finish this sentence. Guards that can’t shoot really have no place in the NBA anymore and Stuckey has never improved that aspect of his game. He was once picked by Joe Dumars as the eventual successor to Chauncey Billups but Mr. Big Shot may be a better player now than Stuckey ever was. Unless Dumars lands another NBA general manager gig, Stuckey’s phone won’t be ringing off the hook with potential suitors this offseason. If his goal is to make more money, then China may be his best option but if his goal is to still play competitive basketball, then Europe is where to go.
9 Ty Lawson
Speaking of guys who were expected to replace Chauncey Billups; Lawson was once one of those players who always appeared on “The Best Player to Never Make an All-Star Team” list. Now, he’s a backup on the lowly Sacramento Kings and has had struggles off the basketball court. Lawson will likely never again reach the level of play he sustained while with the Nuggets but is still a solid backup point guard. However, a change of scenery may do wonders for his life and career and perhaps a less stressful environment than the NBA would be beneficial to Lawson. Maybe his GM Vlade Divac can arrange for Lawson to join one of the many European clubs Divac has a relationship with? That or Lawson can also try his hand in China.
8 Luis Scola
What message does the NBA send you when the league’s worst team cuts you? That’s what Luis Scola is wondering after being released by the Nets in February. Scola had a nice 10-year NBA career that didn’t get started until he was 27 years old. He was just one of four players from his 2002 NBA Draft class that was still active in the league this season but will likely be the only one of those four looking at overseas options next season.
The Argentinean would be well served to return to his native land. No, Argentina is not technically “overseas” but Scola is still a hero there and was even the country’s flag bearer at the 2016 Olympics. He’s won two Olympic medals for the Argentinean national team and played nine years in the country before making his NBA debut. To be honest, Scola can go to any foreign league, minor league, or D-league and it may still be an upgrade over playing for the Nets.
7 Roy Hibbert
Remember when Hibbert was seen as the league’s best interior defender and was engaged in postseason battles with LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Man, life comes at you hard and fast, doesn’t it Roy? The 7’2 center is on his fifth team in three years and can’t get off the bench in Denver after being traded by both the Hornets and Bucks in a three week stretch. Hibbert is just 30 but is no longer a fit in today’s game of pace-and-space as his strength of rim protection doesn’t matter much when the guy he’s defending is shooting three-pointers. Overseas basketball is more traditional and Hibbert’s size would actually be a plus there instead of a minus. He only signed a one-year deal prior to this season so unless Patrick Ewing offers Hibbert an assistant coaching position with Georgetown, the timing is right for Hibbert to head overseas.
6 Jason Terry
Terry will have many options after this season comes to a close. He’ll be 40 in October but may always have a spot on the Bucks as long as Jason Kidd is the coach. He also interviewed for the UAB head coaching opening last season so he clearly has an interest in moving a couple of seats down the bench. But if neither of those things works out, then the Jet should be looking at runways across the pond. He won’t ever catch Ray Allen for career 3P makes, or even Reggie Miller, so Terry should take his talents overseas. He could follow his brother who played in Japan for a while or he can blaze his own path in a new country. The Jet is running on fumes now but could receive one last injection of fuel in a new country.
5 Nick Collison
What Udonis Haslem is to the Miami Heat, Nick Collison is to the OKC Thunder. He helps set the culture and bridge the gap between the coaches and players. But unlike Haslem, Collison isn’t dripping in rings and won’t get one with OKC anytime soon. He’s on the last year of his deal and even though the OKC front office loves having him around, he’s blocking the development of one of the many young players the Thunder have. For someone who’s spent all but four years of his life in Iowa, Kansas, or Oklahoma; somewhere like China may be a culture shock so Collison should take his game to one of the European leagues. We know how much European soccer players love their hair, and with Collison’s ‘do having its own Twitter account, he would fit in nicely with that crowd.
4 Brandon Jennings
The youngest player on this list, Jennings was once the number one high school player in the country and seemed like he was on his way to superstardom after averaging 19 PPG as a 22-year-old. But since then it’s been all downhill as he’s battled injuries and is now on his fourth team in two seasons. It’s hard to feel confident about your game when the Knicks tell you to go away but that is what happened in February.
Jennings played in Italy right after high school instead of playing in college. He didn’t post the greatest numbers but was still a teenager when he played overseas. This is his chance for a mulligan and a chance to show the Italians what he learned during his eight years in the NBA. Among all of the players on this list, his game is most similar to Stephon Marbury’s and could (and should) follow in Marbury’s footsteps.
3 Joakim Noah
ICYMI, Noah was recently hit with a 20 game suspension and will have to sit the first 12 games of next season….unless next season takes place in somewhere other than the NBA. Noah was a great player for the Bulls but his body has been breaking down over the last few years. Perhaps a change of scenery (and some lax rules on drugs), will help extend Noah’s career. His dad is French-Cameroonian and his mom is Swedish so there are a number of options for Joakim overseas. If Knicks’ VP Phil Jackson can somehow convince Noah to turn down the $55 million remaining on his contract and head overseas instead; then Jackson deserves a raise and contract extension. (That is something I never thought I would say).
2 Metta World Peace
You probably saw MWP’s name and thought, “Wait, he’s still in the NBA?!” The “Artest” formerly known as Ron is still playing that intense man-to-man, so-close-I-can-smell-your-breath defense off the bench for the Lakers. And I mean “play” generously as MWP has only been on the court for 88 minutes this season. He’s serving more of a role as a mentor/enforcer/quasi-assistant coach for the young Lakers and is actually older than his head coach, Luke Walton.
MWP would fit in pretty much anywhere as the man’s name, literally, is "Friendliness World Peace." He did play both in China and Italy before joining the Lakers in 2015 though he may not be welcomed back by the Italians after he was ejected during a skirmish in his last game there. While going back to Europe or China would be an option, there is perhaps no other place that could use World Peace more than North Korea.
1 Carmelo Anthony
We all know about Carmelo’s resume: he was one of the best players in high school, may have been the best player in college, won a national championship, and is the most decorated Olympian basketball player ever. But we also know what’s missing from his resume and Frank Ocean said it best: he needs a ring. The Knicks are on their way to losing 50 games for the third straight year, and let’s be real; the Knicks are years away from actually competing for a title. Carmelo seems reluctant to agree to a trade and leave New York so the next three years will look a lot like the last three years: 20+ point games from Carmelo and lots of losses.
So, if Carmelo wants a ring, but doesn’t want to play for another NBA team other than the Knicks; he’s left with one option: head overseas. He would instantly become the biggest star in whatever league he went to and his situation would be somewhat similar to David Beckham when he joined the MLS. It’s the longest of long shots, but the move definitely makes sense and could be a win for both sides.