NBA Veterans On The Comeback Trail


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Over the years, we’ve stated numerous times in this space that Father Time is undefeated. And not only that, all wins – for those that challenge him – are by brutal knockout. Earlier this week, future Hall of Famer and arguably the game’s greatest power forward Tim Duncan became the latest casualty, opting to hang up his high tops forever.

But while some guys are opting to call it quits, there’s an increasing number of veterans looking to stave off Father Time for one more shot in the spotlight.

The reason is understandable.

With billions of guaranteed dollars handed out in free agency so far this summer, veterans who have been away from the game are being tempted by the itch to get back into the locker room  – and yes, secure one more lucrative payday.

Whether these guys still have any gas left in their respective tanks is anyone’s guess and with league executives opting to go with youth instead of age, their comeback road will be met with plenty of obstacles outside of the physical realm.

Yesterday, our Alex Kennedy wrote about 29-year-old Jermaine Taylor, who is looking to return to the NBA after playing overseas in recent years. Today, let’s take a look at some of the older veterans who are reportedly open to the idea of getting back into the league next season:

Carlos Boozer, Power Forward

Boozer, 31, sat out last season but, according to a report by The Vertical, the veteran is interested in getting back into the game for the 2016-17 campaign. In Boozer’s last full season, he averaged 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 71 appearances for the Los Angeles Lakers. For some guys, those stats would represent a career year but for Boozer – a former nightly 20/10 threat – it marked years of decline in productivity.

According to the report, Boozer is looking to mentor younger players or join a title contender.

Ray Allen, Shooting Guard

Allen, 40, hasn’t played since the end of the 2013-14 campaign when he lost in the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs as a member of the Miami HEAT. Most believed Allen had quietly faded off into retirement, but our Alex Kennedy reported that he was staying in shape and receiving interest from several teams, including the Golden State Warriors. Shortly after, an ESPN report confirmed that the veteran guard is eyeing a return to the hardwood.

The report indicates that Allen’s camp has reached out to last season’s conference champions, Cleveland and Golden State, to discuss preliminary interest in his services. Allen made over $180 million during his playing career so this comeback appears to center around playing at the highest level one last time before riding off into the sunset.

Richard Hamilton, Shooting Guard

The latest big-name veteran to talk comeback is Hamilton, who hasn’t played since the 2012-13 season. Hamilton, 38, recently told CBS Sports he has been in the gym with the intention of catching on with a franchise for the upcoming season.

“I’m giving myself 30 days where I am really hitting the gym.” Hamilton said. “I’m working on my game. I’m in the weight room. I’m running my two, three miles a day. And I’m trying to see if my body can hold up. If my body can hold up after these 30 days, I will be making a comeback.”

Physically is where Hamilton’s comeback bid may fall short. The veteran had one of the best mid-range jumpers in recent memory, but he hasn’t played in more than 65 games during a campaign since 2008. Hamilton’s last four seasons in the league were marred by injury.

“I’m actually doing it for (my kids) and for myself, too, to get an opportunity to make one more run at it,” Hamilton said. “And if there’s an opportunity where I could go out and win another championship, I’m all for it.”

Ronald “Flip” Murray

According to our Alex Kennedy, Murray is also on the comeback trail.

Murray last played in the NBA during the 2009-10 campaign for Charlotte and Chicago. Kennedy will be interviewing Murray and posting more information about his comeback attempt on Basketball Insiders later this week.

Stephen Jackson

The 38-year-old has reportedly received some coaching interest from teams, but he’s determined to resume his playing career this season instead. There was some confusion earlier in the week when it was reported that he would attend training camp with the Golden State Warriors, but then the team denied it. It appears that he’s hoping to compete in their camp, but that no offer has currently been made.

Jackson discussed his comeback attempt in an interview with ESPN, where he currently works as an analyst.

“Just get another opportunity to get back in the game,” Jackson told ESPN. “I definitely didn’t leave on my terms, I wasn’t hurt and I’ve had no serious injuries my whole career so I’m ready to go. I feel good. I gave myself six months to see if I was ready and, I’m ready.”

Jackson averaged 15.1 points, 3.9 boards, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals over the course of his 14-year NBA career.


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About Lang Greene

Lang Greene

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last eight seasons

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