10 NBA Players Who Need to Retire

Dirk Nowitzki
Dirty’s days in Dallas could becoming to an end soon. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License]
  • We’re taking a fresh look at 10 tired and washed-up stars who need to step away from the game.
  • Does JET still have any gas left in the tank?
  • Will the Lakers release Luol Deng before he’s old and grey?

Dwyane Wade made headlines around the NBA recently when he admitted he was contemplating retirement for the first time in his career. The three-time champ is carefully weighing his options and has said he will gauge his desire over the summer to ensure he can withstand the grind of another long season.

We personally think Flash still has another year left, but there are plenty of other players around the league who should follow his example and consider hanging ‘em up. We’ve lined up ten of the biggest duds and retreads in the NBA and have outlined why they should walk away while they still can.

Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks)

The NBA is full of fleet-footed athletes who run like gazelles and jump like jackrabbits. And then there’s Dirk Nowitzki, who shuffles down the court like an 80-year-old with a load in his shorts. Dirty’s game has never been predicated on speed or athleticism, but it’s still depressing watching his belabored attempts to keep up with players half his age. It’s time for the big German to (slowly) walk away from the game while his health and dignity are largely still in tact.

Odds Dirk Nowitzki retires at the end of the 2017-18 season: 15/1 

Joakim Noah (Knicks)

Admit it, you didn’t even realize that Joakim Noah was still in the NBA, did you? It’s an easy mistake to make since the six-foot-eleven center has been banished by the Knicks after getting in a heated exchange with head coach Jeff Hornacek. New York tried to trade him at the deadline but – surprise, surprise – the market for aging big man with bad knees and cancerous attitudes was surprisingly soft. Noah is still on the books for two years and $37.8 million, and it’s likely he’ll remain in contractual purgatory until his deal expires at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Odds Joakim Noah retires at the end of the 2017-18 season: 40/1 

Richard Jefferson (Nuggets)

Richard Jefferson achieved every player’s dream of going out on top when he announced his retirement moments after winning the 2016 NBA Finals. It was the perfect end to his 15-year career, but then he went and ruined it 72 hours later by re-upping with the Cavs.

Jefferson had hoped to play a significant role in Denver this season, but has averaged just 1.8 points in nine minutes per game.

He has since been traded for a couple of guys who sound like Russian diplomats, waived by the Atlanta Hawks, and joined the Nuggets. RJ had hoped to play a significant role in Denver this season, but has averaged just 1.8 points in nine minutes per game and has spent more time on the pine than a termite. Hopefully he’ll come to his senses and retire for good at the end of the 2017-18 season.

Odds Richard Jefferson retires at the end of the 2017-18 season: 1/3 

Nick Collison (Thunder)

You know you’ve overstayed your welcome when the team that drafted you out of college no longer even exists. That’s the sad reality for Nick Collison, who was selected by the Seattle SuperSonics with the 12th pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. The Kansas grad had some nice moments earlier in his career, but hasn’t averaged more than five points per game since 2013 and has become little more than a glorified mascot. Collison still has a place with the Thunder, but that place is in the front office, and not on the court.

Odds Nick Collison retires at the end of the 2017-18 season: 1/9 

Nick Collison
Put your hand up if you’re too old for this sh!t. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License]

Udonis Haslem (Heat)

You can’t tell the story of the Miami Heat without including a chapter on Udonis Haslem, the Miami-born baller who has become the franchise’s all-time leader in rebounds and fouls. U.D. was a big part of the Heat’s three championship teams, but he hasn’t played meaningful minutes since 2014 and has averaged under two points per game in each of the last three seasons. It would be fitting if he and Wade both hung ‘em up together at the end of the 2017-18 season.

Odds Udonis Haslem retires at the end of the 2017-18 season: 1/10

Player Age PTS REB AST
Dirk Nowitzki (Mavs) 39 12.5 5.7 1.6
Joakim Noah (Knicks) 33 1.7 2.0 0.6
Richard Jefferson (Nuggets) 37 1.8 0.9 0.6
Nick Collison (Thunder) 37 1.9 1.6 0.4
Udonis Haslem (Heat) 37 0.5 0.6 0.3
Jason Terry (Bucks) 40 3.2 0.9 0.9
Luol Deng (Lakers) 32 2.0 0.0 1.0
ZaZa Pachulia (Warriors) 34 5.7 4.7 1.7
Al Jefferson (Pacers) 33 6.8 3.8 0.9
Vince Carter (Kings) 41 5.4 2.4 1.3

Jason Terry (Bucks)

Remember when Jason Terry’s nickname seemed cool rather than ironic? Sadly, “JET” has been running on fumes for much of the past two seasons in Milwaukee, where he’s started just once and has averaged under four points per game. He had a good run while it lasted, but it’s time now for Terry to get off the runway and into the hangar.

Odds Jason Terry retires at the end of the 2017-18 season: 1/8

Luol Deng (Lakers)

You’re far more likely to see Bigfoot these days than to see Luol Deng on an NBA court. The 32-year-old forward has appeared in only one game for the Lakers this season and remains in the training room during games while his younger – and far less accomplished – teammates log upwards of thirty minutes each.

Deng will likely hang around until the bitter end, but it would be far more dignified for him to cash out now and resume his career overseas.

It’s a sad turn of events for the two-time All-Star, but he clearly no longer fits in the Lakers’ plans and he has yet to agree upon a buyout on the two-years and $36.8 million remaining on his gargantuan contract. Deng will likely hang around until the bitter end, but it would be far more dignified for him to cash out now and resume his career overseas.

Odds Luol Deng retires at the end of the 2017-18 season: 75/1

ZaZa Pachulia
ZaZa has all the tools needed to become a classic heel in the WWE. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License]

ZaZa Pachulia (Warriors)

Unlike many of the other players on our list Zaza Pachulia is not old or injury prone. However, he’s caused so many injuries to others with his flailing elbows and awkward body slams that it would be in everyone’s best interest if he retired immediately (or sooner, if possible). The NBA’s loss would be the WWE’s gain.

Odds ZaZa Pachulia retires at the end of the 2017-18 season: 50/1 

Al Jefferson (Pacers)

Few players have been more adversely affected by the small ball revolution than Al Jefferson, who was one of the NBA’s most lethal low post scorers as recently as 2014-15 when he averaged 16.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game for the Hornets. Big Classic has seen his average and minutes drop precipitously every season since and has appeared mostly in mop up duty this season with Indiana. He’s still just 33, but he might as well be 63 given how much faster the game has become in recent years.

Odds Al Jefferson retires at the end of the 2017-18 season: 22/1 

Vince Carter (Kings)

Vince Carter was once considered to be the greatest in-game dunker in the NBA. Fans and players alike would stop everything they were doing to watch his insane highlights as he jumped over seven-foot Frenchmen and slammed with impunity on the likes of Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. But now whenever he dunks his teammates laugh uproariously and mock him endlessly. That’s really not a good sign. The 41-year-old guard is still skilled and savvy enough to stick around another year or two, but how much can Carter truly gain from another lost season in Sacramento?

Odds Vince Carter retires at the end of the 2017-18 season: 10/1 

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Ryan Murphy began his love affair with sports journalism at the age of nine when he wrote his first article about his little league baseball team. He has since authored his own column for Fox Sports and has created campaigns for the WWE, the NHL, and the NFL. Ryan's critically acclaimed stories have also been published in 20 books and have been featured on more than 170 radio stations and 40 newspapers across North America.