NBA Rumors: The Top Free Agents We Can't Imagine Playing Elsewhere
Remember Patrick Ewing playing for the Orlando Magic?
How about Hakeem Olajuwon donning a purple and black Toronto Raptors jersey?
Karl Malone on the L.A. Lakers?
Thankfully, we've been mostly able to disassociate the legacies of these players from the teams they finished their careers on.
Some stories are just supposed to end a certain way.
Let's look at five free agents whom we couldn't possibly imagine playing on another team next season.
This season marks only Allen's third in a Celtics uniform. Yet, despite having played six-plus seasons in Milwaukee and four-plus in Seattle, I can not picture Allen in another uniform next year.
Allen, the man who once played Jesus Shuttlesworth in Spike Lee's "He Got Game," turns 35 a month from now, but can still help a team with his dead-eye shooting.
With Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo all set to return next season, chances are Allen will return to Boston at a bargain-bin price just to have another shot at winning a title.
Garnett, who is owed $40 million over the next two seasons, is increasingly looking like someone who should consider retirement. Don't be surprised if he is traded prompting Allen to sign elsewhere.
With so much talk about Kobe Bryant and the five championships he might soon have, it's easy to forget the man who was alongside him every step of the way.
In the three seasons "Kobe's Lakers" did not have Derek Fisher (or Shaquille O'Neal), they compiled a 121-125 (.492) record.
It's easy to say it was due to the absence of Shaq, not Fisher; this is mostly true. However, the only significant difference in personnel between the 42-win 2006 team and the 57-win 2007 team that started out 35-20 (.636), prior to the Pau Gasol robbery, is Fisher.
The Arkansas native will turn 36 later this summer, and one has to wonder: how much is left in the tank? A free agent, Fisher has more than earned the right—how many clutch shots?—to be locked up by his organization and made a Laker for life.
Fisher did play one year in Utah and two in Golden State. Still, who can picture him in anything but purple and gold?
The folks in Cleveland are certainly crazy about him, but who doesn't love Zydrunas Ilgauskas?
This was a guy who entered the league as a late first-round draft pick, put up an impressive rookie campaign (14 points and 9 rebounds per game), broke his foot, signed a massive six-year, $71-million deal, and then broke his foot again.
After missing the bulk of two seasons and dealing with mistake-signing chatter, the man they call"Z" returned to form and became a two-time All-Star and Cav-for-life fan favorite.
Ilgauskas just turned 35 and is a free agent this summer. He will most likely return to the Cavaliers in a backup role or retire.
The 7'3" Lithuanian is the Cavaliers' all-time leader in games, rebounds and blocks.
Not enough great things can be said about Paul Pierce and what he has meant to the Boston Celtics organization over the past 12 years.
The man, who few know is from the same Los Angeles neighborhood as rap legend Dr. Dre, stuck with his home city's basketball nemesis on the other coast through thick and thin.
And there was a lot of thin.
Prior to the arrival of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, Pierce had spent nine seasons in Boston, and in just three of those seasons did the Celtics have a record above .500.
Not once did he ask for a trade.
Pierce's patience, commitment and loyalty paid off in 2008 when the Celtics won their first title since 1986. Pierce outplayed Kobe Bryant in the Finals, took home the MVP trophy, and later declared himself the best player in the league.
He also secured a spot for his jersey in the rafters alongside other Celtic greats.
Pierce isn't a free agent, but it is rumored he will opt out of the last year of his contract to renegotiate a new deal. Even though the chance of him leaving is slim to none, there is the possibility he could play elsewhere.
Don't bet on it.
After three first-round exits in their last four trips to the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks have only one thing in mind.
How do we convince Dirk Nowitzki to stay?
One of the game's best players ever, the frustrated 31-year-old German is rumored to opt out his contract to test free agent waters this summer.
While it is unlikely he'll leave Dallas, an organization that has treated him like royalty, the story of the aging, ringless superstar jumping ship in pursuit of a title, is one we're sure Nowitzki has heard.
Nowitzki is the Mavericks all-time leader in almost every major category and obviously its greatest franchise player.
No matter how frustrated he may be, Nowitzki knows he has a good thing going in Texas and will most likely return next season.