Veteran-laden teams typically have the most success in the NBA, but make no mistake the league is and will always be a young man’s game. Aging, injury, money in the bank, growing families and the lack of desire to train at a high level all tilt the scales toward the younger guys making up the majority group.
However, the undefeated champion of them all, Father Time, is the leading reason why once dominant athletes end up hobbling down the stretch before hanging up the high tops for good.
This offseason will be no different. Undoubtedly there will be more than a few veterans, armed with stellar resumes, who decide to walk away from the game for good.
Let’s take a look at a few players who may be approaching the end of the line:
Kevin Garnett, Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves
Career Averages: 18.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals
The Resume: 1x NBA champion, 15x All-Star, 1x Defensive Player of the Year, 4x All-NBA first team and 25,000-point club member
Garnett spent the majority of his career in Minnesota before being traded to Boston in 2007 where he ultimately won a title. The Timberwolves re-acquired the aging veteran at the trade deadline this season to serve as a mentor to their young nucleus of talent. Word out of Minnesota is that the franchise wants to re-sign Garnett this summer to further his role as a mentor.
Garnett is in the final year of his current deal, earning $12 million this season. The veteran has raked in over $300 million over the course of his career so finances wouldn’t be a driving factor in a potential return. It will all come down to if the “Big Ticket” has the desire for one more campaign. He has seriously considered retirement in recent years and could do the same this offseason.
Ray Allen, Guard, Free Agent
Career Averages: 18.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists
The Resume: 2x NBA champion, 10x All-Star and career leader in three-point field goals (2,973)
Allen turns 40 in July and decided to sit out this season instead of joining a playoff contender. This has led many people to ask, is Allen done for good? When has a 40-year-old come back to the league after sitting out an entire campaign?
Allen is known for his rigorous and extremely detailed training preparation, but we may have already watched the veteran play his last NBA game during the 2014 NBA Finals.
Amar’e Stoudemire, Forward, Dallas Mavericks
Career Averages: 19.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.3 blocks
The Resume: 6x All-Star, 1x All-NBA first team
The end of Stoudemire’s career has been marred by the inability to stay healthy. Still productive when on the floor, Stoudemire just hasn’t been able to avoid the injury bug consistently. The aging veteran latched on with Dallas after completing a buyout with New York last month and will serve as a veteran presence on the Mavericks’ bench as they pursue a title.
Stoudemire, 32, is one of the youngest players on this list, but it’s clear Father Time has taken a toll on a once dominant force.
Andre Miller, Guard, Sacramento Kings
Career Averages: 12.9 points, 6.7 assists and 3.8 rebounds
The Resume: Currently ninth on the all-time assist list
Over the past 15 years, Miller certainly has an argument as being the most talented player to not be selected for an All-Star appearance. Miller turns 39 this week and it’s a rarity to see point guards stick around this long and still remain productive. Miller was dealt to Sacramento at the trade deadline and reunited with head coach George Karl.
Miller told Basketball Insiders he had no intentions to retire this summer earlier this season (when he was with Washington) and with Karl running the show in Sacramento, he might have found a place to get more run in 2015-16.
Gerald Wallace, Forward, Boston Celtics
Career Averages: 12 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 steals
The Resume: 1x All-Star, 1x All-Defensive first team
Wallace recently told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe he’s beginning to ponder his future in the league and contemplating how much longer he will play. Wallace’s career has declined gradually since making the 2010 All-Star team, but he’s still a serviceable player when given minutes, which hasn’t been often on the retooling Boston Celtics who are opting to play younger guys.
It’s almost a certainty Wallace will return next season with $10 million owed to him, but when guys start openly talking about retirement, you can never be fully sure until you see them in training camp.
Shawn Marion, Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers
Career Averages: 15.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.1 blocks
The Resume: 1x NBA champion, 4x All-Star and top 20 all-time in steals (No. 17)
Marion has already announced his plans to retire at season’s end. Prior to this season Marion had averaged double figures in scoring the prior 15 campaigns. That scoring streak will come to an end this season, but Marion is in hot pursuit of a second championship as he winds down a highly respectable career.
Elton Brand, Forward, Atlanta Hawks
Career Averages: 16.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 blocks
The Resume: 2x All-Star
It’s often forgotten how good Brand was when he entered the league. During his prime years with the Los Angeles Clippers, Brand was a certified 20-point and 10-rebound per game performer. The combination of age and injury has downgraded Brand from a leading man to an end of the bench presence in Atlanta, but the veteran still gets it done when his number is called.
Kenyon Martin, Forward, Milwaukee Bucks
Career Averages: 12.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks
The Resume: 1x All-Star
The former No. 1 overall pick never became a franchise player, but Martin was a core block of multiple teams that made deep playoff runs during his prime years. Martin has only appeared in 11 games with Milwaukee this season and this marks the first time in his career he’ll average less than 20 minutes (rounded) in a season.
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