NBA 2010-11 Preview: 10 NBA Players Who Should Retire Now

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalPop Culture Lead WriterSeptember 28, 2010

NBA 2010-11 Preview: 10 NBA Players Who Should Retire Now

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    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 20:  Tracy McGrady #3 of the New York Knicks smiles after making a basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Madison Square Garden on February 20, 2010 in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Time creeps up on the best of us.  I used to be able to eat a whole burrito, and it wouldn't induce a weekend-long coma.  Age just has a way of catching up to you.  So it is the same with the fittest of athletes.  

    Careers are fleeting.   

    One day you are hitting a buzzer-beater, and the next you are waiver wire fodder with no teams interested in your services.  It is the sad reality of the NBA.  

    While you may fall in love with your favorite players, their time to hang it up comes seemingly much too quickly.  Here is a list of players that would do well to heed Father Time's suggestion and hang up the sneakers. 

10: Michael Finley

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    BOSTON - MARCH 10:  Michael Finley #40 of the Boston Celtics heads for the net in the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies on March 10, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Grizzlies defeated the Celtics 111-91. NOTE TO USER: User expr
    Elsa/Getty Images

    As of this print Michael Finley has not been picked up by any team.  The last we heard he had no desire to retire from the NBA.  Much like many aging players.  

    Finley will wade around the free-agency market until a forward position pops up, or it dawns on him that he is past the point of usefulness. 

9: Kurt Thomas

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    ATLANTA - APRIL 28:  Kurt Thomas #40 of the Milwaukee Bucks against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly a
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Kurt Thomas will be 38 when the season starts.  He hasn't averaged more than 20 minutes in a game for three years.  The one aspect he has going for him, and the trait that has kept him viable for so long, is his intellect.  He finds open space to rebound as well as put up his mid-range shot.  

    What has become obvious in the last few years is his diminished minutes and lack of production offensively.  

    While Chicago boasts scorers aplenty, Kurt Thomas may do more harm than good.  Already undersized for his position, teams can feel comfortable playing him soft to take care of Chicago’s more imposing threats.

8: Juwan Howard

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    DENVER - APRIL 17:  Juwon Howard #5 of the Houston Rockets shoots against the Denver Nuggets in the first quarter on April 17, 2006 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Howard led with 31 points in the Rockets' 86-83 win.  NOTE TO USER: USER expressly
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Juwan Howard may have been best served taking the final year in his four-year buyout from Minnesota and walking.  As it were, the Heat were in the market for players on the cheap.  He may add veteran panache to a star-studded roster, but that is about it.  His better days left him in Orlando, when he averaged 17 points during the 2003-04 season.

    This year Howard will fight for minutes alongside better, more youthful players. A one-time crucial role player, he will now be relegated to 15 minutes a game.

7: Theo Ratliff

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    AUBURN HILLS, MI - MAY 03:  Theo Ratliff #42 of the Detroit Pistons gets in for a dunk while playing the Orlando Magic in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2008 NBA Playoffs at the Palace of Auburn Hills on May 3, 2008 in Auburn Hil
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    Theo Ratliff hasn’t played more than 55 games in a season since the 2004-2005 campaign.  

    The fact that the Lakers have two big men and were well over the salary cap made L.A. a perfect destination for the 37-year-old journeyman.  The hiccup comes in the form of Andrew Bynum.  With Bynum gone until the end of November, Ratliff will see increased minutes early in the season.  If Bynum gets re-injured as he is prone to do, Ratliff will be called upon to do more than his body may be capable of.

    This season may find injuries and/or age catch up to the former All-Star.  I will be there to tell you I told you so.

6: Eddy Curry

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    CHICAGO - JANUARY 08: Eddy Curry #34 of the New York Knicks waits for a ball during warm-ups before a game against the Chicago Bulls on January 8, 2008 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Knicks defeated the Bulls 105-100. NOTE TO USER: User ex
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Eddy Curry is fat.  There is no denying it.  This is as plain to see as his less than desirable season stats. News came today that Curry is reporting to camp well over 300 lbs.  Although he will play diminished minutes for the Knicks, that is no reason to come in heavier than a bloated Shaquille O’Neal.  

    It is quite clear that Curry has given up on playing in the NBA.  He is still under contract, which is the only reason he has not been forced into the NBA retirement home.

5: Joe Smith

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    CHICAGO - MARCH 01: Joe Smith #32 of the Atlanta Hawks is congratulated by teammates after a win over the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 1, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Hawks defeated the Bulls 116-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowled
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    All signs point to the end of a bizarre career.  New Jersey will most likely be the last stop for Joe Smith. Beginning in 1995, Smith’s career was promising.  His first two years with Golden State were productive. Once he was dealt to the 76ers, his production and value as a star player plummeted.  

    A look at last year’s statistics illustrates the whimper Joe Smith is about to go out on. The 2009-2010 season was the first time in his career he shot below 40 percent.  He is also on a team that will be up against much more formidable opponents every night, so you wonder why Smith stayed.  

    The numbers do not lie.  He has stayed past his time, and a year on a non-competitive team will be heart-wrenching to watch. 

4: Tracy McGrady

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    NEW YORK - JANUARY 26:  Tracy McGrady #1 of the Houston Rockets watches on against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden January 26, 2009 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this
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    Athletes are always looking for that one last game-winner.  They are constantly in search for better games, larger stats, bigger status.  It is the only reason I can think of that Tracy McGrady signed a one-year contract with the Pistons, one of the few teams that wanted him.

    The big question is whether McGrady can stay healthy.  His last two years have seen him on the sidelines rather than the court, and his image as a proven star has suffered.  

    Detroit will be the last bastion of hope for T-Mac.  If he fails to deliver this year, he will be forced to retire for lack of interested teams.

3: Grant Hill

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Grant Hill #33 of the Phoenix Suns reacts to a play against the Los Angeles Lakers in the fourth quarter of Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2010 in Los Angeles,
    Harry How/Getty Images

    For a good while in the NBA, there were only a couple things that were certainties: Joey Crawford would give out league-leading technicals because he was “in a mood,” and Grant Hill would be injured.  

    As if drinking some magical elixir, Hill has put together some good years in Phoenix.  Although he is nowhere near the legendary forward he should have been, he has made a case for himself as a viable NBA player late in his career.

    What has me worried is his age and the damage his injuries may have caused him.  While I hope I am wrong and he turns out to be the Jamie Moyer of the NBA, an aging vet that somehow finds a way to stay viable, more than likely Alvin Gentry’s run-and-gun offense will prove fatal to this elder small forward.

2: Allen Iverson

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    CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 20: Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers is slow to get up after being hit in the face during a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on February 20, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the 76ers 122-90. NO
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    You can just smell the desperation. Allen Iverson is all alone sitting by the phone, waiting for a call that will not come.  Perhaps his suggestion that he would play in China was to force a paranoid GM into taking a chance on the former All-Star.  Maybe he is just biding his time to see if there are injuries during NBA camps that would necessitate a team taking one last shot at the malcontent.

    All I know is fans and owners alike have had their fill of “The Answer.”  His departure from Denver was an addition by subtraction scenario.  The Nuggets instantly became Western Conference contenders. His stint on the 76ers last year was more side show than productive, so you can see the writing on the wall.  

    Allen Iverson, your press conference to announce your retirement is overdue. 

1: Shaquille O'Neal

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    BOSTON - MAY 13:  Kendrick Perkins #43 of the Boston Celtics and Shaquille O'Neal #33 of the Cleveland Cavaliers fight for the ball during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA playoffs at TD Garden on May 13, 2010 in Boston, Massa
    Elsa/Getty Images

    When Kendrick Perkins returns to the Celtics around the All-Star break, Shaquille O’Neal will move to third on Boston’s depth chart.  One of the most dominating big men the game has ever known will most likely play minutes after Jermaine O’Neal.  The go-to man for so many years, he will fail to be even the best O’Neal on the roster.

    It pains me to say but time and lethargy have caught up to Shaq.  

    He was never known to show up to camp in the best of shape.  It was one of the points of contention when he was in Los Angeles.  His year in Boston may just be an overt attempt at one last ring.  What I hope does not happen is a legend reduced to single-digit minutes a game.