Heading into the 2014-15 NBA season, there are a lot of veteran players who are trying to keep their careers going for at least one more year. Whether the motivation is from being on a good team capable of competing for one last championship, silencing the critics who say they can no longer play or just proving it to themselves, some of the game’s greats are trying to battle Father Time and extend their playing career.
Here’s a look at some players who could be down to their last season or two:
Steve Nash (40 years old) – After hearing the latest news regarding Nash’s health, it may be time for the former MVP to finally hang it up. Nash’s future is in doubt once again, this time after experiencing more back pain caused by carrying some luggage. Nash has played in just 65 games through two seasons in Los Angeles, and doesn’t appear to be on his way back any time soon. Nash is said to be anxious to return again, but even if he does return there is no telling what kind of impact he’ll have. Nash had previously said that he wouldn’t retire until he collected all of the money he was due on his current contract, but now he’s in the final year of that deal (making $9,701,000 this season).
Kobe Bryant (36 years old) – After playing in just six games last season, Bryant is set to return for the Lakers. Bryant is coming off of two significant injuries and is determined to return to form against all odds this season. The 36-year-old was ranked as the 40th-best player in a recent ESPN poll, leaving many people, including Bryant himself, questioning the ranking. When Bryant re-signed with the Lakers for two more years, many were left wondering if he’d even be able to make it through the first season of that deal. Now that Bryant is back to playing ball again, it’s time to find out if he can be productive for another season and keep the Lakers competitive in the Western Conference. Bryant is signed through next year.
Paul Pierce (37 years old) – The Washington Wizards are counting on Pierce to be productive this season. The problem is that Pierce is entering his 17th season in the league, and while he hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down yet, he is nearing the end of his career. Pierce averaged a career-low in minutes last season, playing just 28 minutes per game. He should continue to see those types of minutes in Washington. The Wizards have already had an injury scare with Pierce this preseason, after he briefly left Friday night’s game with a knee injury. Pierce would return to the game, but this will definitely be something the team will monitor throughout the season. Pierce’s contract has a player option for next season.
Kevin Garnett (38 years old) – Many were surprised over the summer when Garnett decided that he would return for another season, especially after the campaign he endured last year. Garnett played in just 54 games last season, averaging just 20.5 minutes a game and battling various injuries. Minutes will again be a concern for Garnett and the Nets, but Brooklyn head coach Lionel Hollins has stated that Garnett’s situation will be fluid and he’ll monitor it closely. Hollins has assured Garnett that he’ll be in the starting lineup, but that could change as the long season progresses forward. Garnett is in the final year of his contract (making $12,000,000 this season).
Dwyane Wade (32 years old) – In recent years, the Miami HEAT really stuck to a game plan when it came to how much time Wade saw on the court. The team was afforded that luxury by having LeBron James hold it down while Wade was out, but now that James is gone, the HEAT will be counting on Wade to contribute. Wade played in just 54 games last season and averaged a career-low 32.9 minutes per game. Wade was still able to remain effective during the time that he was on the court, but it’s clear that Wade is entering the final few seasons of his career and may not be able to average 19 points a game again as he did last season. Wade’s contract has a player option for next season.
Vince Carter (37 years old) – Carter entered the NBA in the same season as Pierce and is also nearing the end of his career. Carter spent the last three seasons in Dallas and is heading to Memphis for his 17th season. He is coming off of a season in which he averaged the fewest minutes per game in his career at 24.4, but he is going to a Grizzlies team that may only need him to play 15-20 minutes a game and hit a few threes a night. Depending on how this season plays out, this may be one of the last for Vinsanity. Carter’s contract is guaranteed through next season, with one last non-guaranteed year in 2016-17.
Andre Miller (38 years old) – Miller’s time on the court has decreased significantly over the last few seasons and his production has begun to decline as a result. Miller finally got his wish to leave Denver in February and now finds himself in Washington, where he’ll have the opportunity for more minutes in the backcourt with Bradley Beal sidelined for the next several weeks. For Miller, the ultimate payoff would be to play very well in this increased role and have one last playoff run with the Wizards. Miller is in the final year of his contract.
Manu Ginobili (37 years old) – So much of the Spurs’ success rests on veterans like Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Ginobili showed a great resurgence last season during the Spurs’ run to another championship, but has fallen back a bit after a stress fracture in his right fibula. Ginobili missed the FIBA World Cup over the summer and has showed a lot of rust thus far in the preseason, as evidenced by his 27 percent field goal percentage (4-of-15) during three games. While it may be too soon to start becoming concerned with his slow start, it’ll be something to look for during the beginning of the season. Ginobili is in the final year of his contract.
Tim Duncan (38 years old) – Duncan has managed to fool Father Time many times, but will he be able to do it again this season? After watching Duncan in the playoffs last season, the answer is likely yes. With that said, Duncan opted into the final year of his deal after the Finals, so this really might be his last go-around. If the Spurs’ big three of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker can all stay healthy again and the team can repeat as champions, it’d seem like a great time to go out. However, Duncan has fooled us before.
Jason Terry (37 years old) – Last season was the first time since his rookie year that Terry didn’t average double-digit scoring – a span of 13 seasons. Terry is now in Houston and hopes he can improve his play and go on another deep playoff run. He’ll be on a team that will need him to contribute and lead behind James Harden, as he’s expected to play a key role off of the bench. Terry has previously admitted the thought of retirement has crossed his mind and if his situation in Houston doesn’t pan out, he might be calling it a day sooner than later. Terry is in the final year of his contract.
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