While time is running out for a number of NBA teams desperate to make playoff runs this season, so too is the sand in the hourglass for a number of the Association's former stars.
The allure of playing in the world's premier basketball league is a powerful force, and many who had previously closed the book on their NBA careers are trying to write one last chapter in their respective legacies. Whether any of these players finds a place to land remains to be seen, but it won't be due to a lack of trying. In fact, the smart money says that at least one of them makes a roster before the start of the 2013-14 season.
Allen Iverson desperately wants to play in the NBA again, but the amount of effort that he's willing to put into his comeback is questionable at best.
The Texas Legends of the NBA's Development League all but rolled out the red carpet in an attempt to jump-start Iverson's return, but the 11-time All-Star politely declined the team's overtures.
I thank Donnie and Dallas for the consideration and while I think the D-League is a great opportunity, it is not the route for me.— Allen Iverson (@alleniverson) January 29, 2013
No team is simply going to hand the 37-year-old Iverson a roster spot, so unless he's willing to pay his dues at some semi-professional level, the odds of him returning to the NBA are extremely slim at this point.
Much like Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas decided to take his talents to the Chinese Basketball Association, and he was relatively successful (21.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.3 APG). His commitment to the Shanghai Sharks is officially over, so Arenas is now free to return to the States and join an NBA team, provided that he can find one.
Arenas' 23-game stint with the Memphis Grizzlies was largely forgettable, but it's hard to argue that the 6'3" shooting guard isn't more talented than a number of players at the end of NBA benches, even at 31 years old.
One thing's for sure: Arenas doesn't need to return to the game for money. Even after using the league's amnesty clause on him in Nov. 2011, the Orlando Magic still owe Arenas more than $43 million on the contract that he signed with the Washington Wizards in July 2008.
After an impressive run in the Chinese Basketball Association with the Qingdo DoubleStar Eagles, Tracy McGrady is now eligible to return to the NBA. All he needs now is a team that is interested in acquiring his services.
For the Eagles this season, McGrady averaged 25.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game on 56.1 percent shooting. Granted, the talent difference between the CBA and the NBA is massive, but on some level, it appears as though McGrady would still offer value to a playoff-bound team. The 33-year-old McGrady was something of a disappointment last year in Atlanta (5.3 PPG), so he'll have to hope that his exploits in China carry some weight if he has any hopes of linking up with an NBA team again.
In an interesting twist, the oldest player attempting to make a comeback may have one of the best chances to return to the NBA.
Not only did 39-year-old Michael Finley come close to earning a spot with the Dallas Mavericks during training camp this year, but he has also considered playing for ASVEL, the team that Tony Parker owns in the French basketball league.
According to Finley, five to 10 teams are interested in his services, but he's nearly three full years removed from playing in the NBA. Finley was a solid spot contributor for the 2009-10 Boston Celtics (5.2 PPG), and he might be able to provide a club with deft outside shooting and a strong veteran presence on the bench.
You know things are bad in Beantown now that the Boston Celtics have made a play for oft-injured big man Greg Oden. The 25-year-old Oden hasn't seen action in more than three years after myriad injuries to both knees.
Oden originally planned to sit out the 2012-13 campaign, but several teams interested in strengthening their respective benches (including Boston and Miami) are gauging whether or not the seven-footer can be a viable contributor this season.
It's unlikely that Oden will be back before next year, but there will be more than a few suitors courting him if and when he's healthy enough to play 10 to 15 minutes per night.