It’s always sad watching once-great athletes enter the twilight of their careers. For sports fans, it feels like we’re losing a piece of ourselves. Father Time doesn’t discriminate, and though some athletes push the envelope into their 40s, we all sadly have a shelf life.
In the past two years, fans have seen notable figures like Tim Duncan, Amar’e Stoudemire, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce retire. Here are 10 well-known players who may follow in their footsteps in the next year.
10. Vince Carter
I sat down with V.C. on draft day to discuss his future, and at the time it was uncertain. He was waiting for LeBron to announce his decision so the rest of the league could react and adjust their free-agency plans accordingly. Once LJ finally did so, the Hawks scooped Carter, signing him to a one-year deal. Atlanta wanted “Carter around its young locker room,” per Woj. The 41-year-old will receive $2.4 million for the season — keep getting them checks! Carter is no longer the Vinsanity we all knew and loved, but he’s had a heck of a career, and he’s still a valuable piece. Last season, with Sacramento, he played in 58 games, averaging 17.7 minutes, 5.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 34.5 percent from beyond the arc. The former No. 5 overall pick (1998, Golden State Warriors) has now played for eight teams.
The NBA trade deadline has passed, but we are far from the end of the player movement. It has become normal that a robust buyout market emerges after the deadline, as players who weren’t moved — or were moved to match salaries — are set free to sign with contenders for the minimum. These buyout players are valuable weapons for cap-limited teams in need of more depth.
Who will end up on the buyout market this year? Here are ten potential candidates of varying likelihood.
1) Derrick Rose, Jazz
Derrick Rose was sent to Utah as part of a three-way trade the Cavs made on deadline day. Reports have said he is likely to seek a buyout and receive one from the Jazz. If that happens, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been mentioned as a potential landing spot. He has great familiarity with his former coach Tom Thibodeau and ex-teammate Jimmy Butler, and is said to have interest in a reunion.
2) Joe Johnson, Kings
Suddenly lacking in perimeter defense, the Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to the Chicago Bulls for help ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline.
According to a report by KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune on Sunday, the Thunder and the Bulls have discussed the expiring contract of veteran Tony Allen, who arrived in Chicago as part of the Nikola Mirotic trade.
Oklahoma City just lost Andre Roberson for the season. The All-Defensive Second Teamer suffered a ruptured patellar tendon while going up for a dunk during a win over Detroit last month. Since Roberson went down, the Thunder are just 1-4 and have given up an average of 112.6 points per game.
With Oklahoma City having high playoff hopes and Chicago having little use for two months of a 36-year-old on a rebuilding team, a trade involving the three-time All-Defensive First Teamer Allen would likely benefit both sides.
- Tony Allen
The 2008 Celtics are assembling like The Avengers to defend Paul Pierce.
In a feature by Jackie MacMullan and Chris Forsberg of ESPN that ran on Wednesday, New Orleans Pelicans veteran Tony Allen, who was on that title-winning team with Pierce, shaded Cleveland Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas. Thomas was originally supposed to have a video tribute aired by the Celtics on Feb. 11, the same night Pierce would be getting his jersey retired by the team.
“I’m with Pierce, man,” Allen was quoted as saying. “[Thomas] didn’t put in more work than Paul. Anybody disagree? OK. Paul Pierce put in big work, man. Why would they honor [Thomas] on that same day, man?
“Let my man get his jersey retired, man,” added Allen. “Let him embrace that, man. He put a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this organization, man, and capitalized and had some good results. [Pierce] struggled with the team. I remember losing 19 straight with that man. Turned around and won a championship [the next season]. Talk about Paul Pierce, man, don’t mention [Thomas’] name, the guys’ name that don’t stand in the same frame.”
Pierce himself was also quoted in the story and shared a funny shot that Kevin Garnett, another prominent teammate of his in Boston, took at Thomas.
“Everyone understood where I was coming from,” said Pierce. “KG was like, ‘Isaiah who? Hell no, you’re damn right you not sharing your night with him.'”
For what it’s worth, Thomas has since tweeted that he would like to forgo his Feb. 11 tribute video and let all the attention that night be focused on Pierce.
I'd like to thank the Celtics for their gracious offer to play a video tribute on Feb 11th celebrating my 3yrs in Boston. But since it appears this has caused some controversy w/ Paul Pierce's night I'd ask the Celtics instead to focus all of their attention on #34's career.
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) January 17, 2018
While Garnett and Allen seemed to take exception to the thought of Pierce sharing his night with Thomas, yet another former Celtics teammate of theirs questioned why Thomas even deserved a tribute from the C’s at all. Poor IT.
DeMarcus Cousins was ejected from Monday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder for committing a Flagrant 2 foul on Russell Westbrook, and New Orleans Pelicans teammate Tony Allen was a bit peeved about the incident.
Cousins elbowed Westbrook in the head in the third quarter after securing a rebound and was thrown out of the game in a call that he did not agree with.
DeMarcus Cousins ejected for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head.
Good call? pic.twitter.com/dUOwcdCkDi
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 21, 2017
After the game, Allen called Westbrook out for the play, saying that he flopped and that he took advantage of Cousins’ history, according to Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript. Allen also got in a “ball don’t lie” dig for good measure.
Tony Allen on Cousins' flagrant on Westbrook: "I definitely think he flopped. He took advantage of Cousins’ history. He was going to get the best of that call…You saw him get right back up and miss the free throw. He missed it, so you know what that means. The ball don’t lie."
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) November 21, 2017
There is little doubt that by itself the elbow was worthy of a flagrant foul call. But Westbrook’s embellishment as well as Cousins’ own reputation probably brought it up to Flagrant 2 territory, and it is clear that Allen, who has not had the best things to say about the Thunder lately, did not appreciate it.
Tony Allen received a hero’s welcome upon his return to Memphis as a member of the opposition, and he is upset that some other ex-franchise stars around the NBA did not receive the same treatment by their old teams.
In an interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that ran on Friday, Allen called out the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Cleveland Cavaliers for their respective handlings of the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving departures.
“That’s kind of being petty for the organization,” he said of not playing a video tribute for a former star. “It’s premeditated. They thought about doing that before you even came back. To give [Durant’s No. 35] jersey away [to another player], a guy who has been in multiple MVP conversations, scoring champs, got those guys to the [2012 Finals] … And another guy like Kyrie, who won a championship for those people, it’s a sign of disrespect, a sign of pettiness.”
Allen, who played seven seasons in Memphis before signing with the New Orleans Pelicans this summer, got a video tribute from the Grizzlies upon his return earlier this month and will also be getting his jersey retired by the team further down the road. Those are courtesies that neither Durant, who played eight seasons for the Thunder, and Irving, who played six for the Cavs, received. Of course, Durant has thrown shade at his former club since leaving (ditto for Irving as well), so maybe the pettiness goes both ways here.
Tony Allen may be wearing a New Orleans Pelicans uniform these days, but his heart will always be in Memphis.
The Grizzlies announced Thursday that Allen, who played with them for seven years and was a crucial part of their identity, will be getting his jersey retired.
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) October 12, 2017
Speaking with reporters shortly afterwards, Allen had an emotional reaction.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) October 12, 2017
“I wasn’t doing that for no notoriety,” said the six-time All-Defensive selection. “I was never trying to be in your paper, your latest magazine. I was doing it just playing hard, playing the right way, trying to win. Never cared about the fanciness and the All-Star games.
“All I wanted to just be known for is to be one of the greatest defenders that ever played the game,” Allen continued. “I just think Memphis allowed me to have the opportunity to be able to play. That’s that.”
The Grizzlies, who were founded in 1995, actually have yet to retire a single player’s jersey. Thus, it’s obviously a huge honor for Allen, who defined the Grit-N-Grind era and earned the respect of his contemporaries in the process.