NBA Players with Nothing Left to Lose

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2012

NBA Players with Nothing Left to Lose

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    Messing up at a minimum-wage gig isn't an especially earth-shattering affront to professionalism as we know it. In times like these, chances are you are your own biggest critic.

    For athletes making multiple millions of dollars every year, the stakes are just a tad bit higher. When things go wrong, they go really wrong. The NBA is littered with a long history of once great or promising players flaming out and looking forward to careers off the court sooner than they ever planned on doing so.

    But, for every Stephon Marbury or Gilbert Arenas, there's a guy like Brandon Roy making a comeback from knee conditions that were no fault of his own.

    That is, of course, the beauty of redemption.

    Here's a look at five players who all hit lows of one sort or another. They'll each go into this season with a slate that might not be entirely clean just yet, but is sure ready for a good scrubbing.

Andray Blatche

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    After Andray Blatche tanked last season with the Washington Wizards, he became one of the latest victims of the amnesty clause and for pretty good reason.

    He was scheduled to make over $7 million this year despite his shooting percentage plummeting to just 38 percent last season. That's never a good mark, but it's especially problematic for a big man whose claim to fame is scoring.

    As bad as the Washington Wizards have been lately, fans weren't especially understanding. Even Blatche conceded he could have given a better effort.

    Whatever becomes of Blatche, he's already hit rock bottom. And, he's already made a ton of money doing it.

    From here on out, he'll have every opportunity to redeem himself and nothing left to lose in the process.

Charlie Villanueva

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    After playing just 13 games last season due to ankle problems, the well-compensated Charlie Villanueva appeared destined to be amnestied.

    The Detroit Pistons instead opted to show him some mercy.

    Fans haven't been quite so understanding. For Villanueva, that's just more motivation to set his career back on track (via the Detroit Free Press' Vince Ellis):

    "But I can't worry about people not wanting me here—people saying that I'm not any good. I know what type of player that I am. ... I'm just going to let my game do the talking."

    Villanueva really doesn't have much choice at this point. The Pistons desperately need a few guys to take big steps forward, unless this team is to settle for another year of rebuilding and waiting for youngsters like Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and now Andre Drummond to develop.

Andris Biedrins

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    After a couple of successful seasons from 2007-2009, the Golden State Warriors saw fit to reward center Andris Biedrins with a deal paying him $9 million a year.

    Needless to say, things didn't work out as hoped.

    Biedrins' production and playing time have plummeted since then, and it would be surprising to see him reclaim a significant role now that Andrew Bogut is the team's starting center. Even before Bogut got there, Biedrins was an afterthought.

    He has a player option for another $9 million to return after this season, and you can expect him to pick that up unless he just feels too guilty about taking that much money to do absolutely nothing. In the event he does pick it up, his expiring deal could become  somewhat attractive trade bait.

    Biedrins is still just 26, so his career isn't over. He'll need to spend every minute on the floor like it's his last this season. 

    The way things have been going, it may be.

Lamar Odom

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    Well, Lamar Odom is back in Los Angeles.

    Who knows what that will mean for his career on the court. In theory, his roundabout return to the Clippers should at least ensure he doesn't spend another season sulking. It really can't get much worse than the emotional roller-coaster that characterized his brief stint with the Dallas Mavericks.

    On the other hand, his proximity to all-things-Kardashian could ensure he stagnates as the marginal contributor he was last season. It remains to be seen what's actually responsible for distracting Odom, and it goes without saying, a guy so susceptible to distraction is always something of an unknown quantity.

    As it currently stands, though, Odom's career couldn't get much worse.

    His foray into reality television may have been embarrassing, but his implosion with the Mavericks was downright painful.

    Yes, we should all wish the best for Odom. Even if he is something of a drama queen these days, it can't be easy to learn that your team (the Los Angeles Lakers) was hankering to trade you. That may be the reality of today's NBA, but that's a sad commentary on the league.

    Even Odom is human, and he's due for a comeback.

Amar'e Stoudemire

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    After really handing it to a fire extinguisher in the first round of last season's playoffs, the much-maligned Amar'e Stoudemire sank to an altogether new level.

    He's been blamed for disrupting on-court chemistry by getting in Carmelo Anthony's way, and there have long been legitimate concerns about his effort on the defensive end of the floor. For all his scoring abilities, Stoudemire has never been a complete player.

    By most measures, Stoudemire is still a fine player. He's just not the franchise player the New York Knicks were banking on when they signed him away from the Phoenix Suns and planned to build around him.

    Perhaps some time with Hakeem Olajuwon will help his cause, but footwork in the post is hardly this guy's biggest problem. 

    The best thing he can do this season is play his heart out on defense and take notes from Tyson Chandler. Anything less than that kind of commitment will subject him to the wrath of more than a few New Yorkers.