I know it’s going to happen.
You know it’s going to happen.
And David Stern knows it’s going to happen.
There will be a lockout in the 2010-2011 NBA season.
While it certainly affects all of us, a potential whole year of basketball gone could signal the end of a few careers of some prominent names around the league.
It could also mean that we won’t get to see Theo Ratliff play for his tenth team; a real shame since I’m sure Phil Jackson would let Ratliff borrow that nifty Roman numeral ‘X’ hat that he wore after winning his tenth championship.
While some players might be thinking that they have one more year left in their legs, the choice may not be left up to them, forcing them to retire a year earlier and enter the real estate business well before they wanted to.
Let’s take a look at the ten oldest players in the NBA and the likelihood that we’ll see them a year and a half from now if no basketball is played next season.
Career Averages: 24 PTS, 11 REB, 2.3 BLK
Shaq signed on with the Celtics for two years, shocking many at first. But despite some injury time, he has played well enough to make a significant impact for Boston this season—well enough to make us think that if the Celtics are unable to win it all this year, Shaq would likely come back for one last shot.
However, with the labor turmoil leading us to believe that we need to be enjoying every second of NBA play this season because we won’t be getting any next fall, the chances that this is it for the Big Fella have increased tremendously.
At age 40, Shaq will be out of the NBA.
Career Averages: 8.8 PTS, 7 REB, 0.8 BLK
Not one of the more prolific players on the list, but old nonetheless.
Thomas has made his rounds throughout the league, bringing mediocre but acceptable power forward play to eight different teams.
It’s honestly hard to picture a summer where I see “Kurt Thomas traded to (borderline playoff team X) for (failed European player Y) and (over-the-hill buyout player z)” scroll across the bottom ticker on TV and I think to myself, “Oh.”
Strangely, I will miss this moment.
Career Averages: 17.8 PTS, 6.4 REB, 4.5 AST
This is going to sound ludicrous, but Grant Hill’s Orlando ankle issues may have saved his career.
Granted, they probably also ruined what could have been a great stretch of Hall of Fame-level of play, but there is no doubting that it forced Hill to adapt to his limitations and transform himself from an explosive drive-it-home-and-park-it-in-the-six-car-garage scorer to a slightly less-MTV Cribs jump shot style of play. Otherwise, he’d probably be retired already.
Regardless, his contract expires after this year and the “40 is the new 20” rule doesn’t apply in the NBA as it does for bored housewives and Brett Favre.
Career Averages: 14.1 PTS, 6.4 REB, 2.3 AST
Frankly, I’m not sure why Juwan Howard is even still in this league. He hasn’t had anything resembling a productive year since ‘06-‘07 with Houston when he scored 9.7 points and grabbed 5.9 rebounds.
But hey, who’s to judge? He’s here, he’s gotten into 16 games this season for less than 11 minutes per contest, and he has a shot at a title.
Sounds like a breeze. I’d hang onto that as long as possible, too.
Which is why Howard will continue to bounce around until the NBA pays him to leave around 2014, citing, “It’s not you, Juwan. It’s your goatee. This isn’t 1995 and you don’t play for the Bullets anymore. That kind of facial hair just isn’t acceptable. Besides, studies have shown that the neckbeard is the most lucrative of all the facial hair stylings. Give it a shot.”
Career Averages: 13.5 PTS, 9.2 AST, 6.6 REB
Jason Kidd is an interesting case.
Statistically, he’s having the worst season of his career (while also single-handedly sabotaging my fantasy team) but is an integral piece of Western Conference powerhouse Dallas in the midst of a 12-game win streak.
Next season, his contract expires, but I half expect Kidd to stick around for a few more years to give himself another shot to put some jewelry on his finger.
If he doesn’t turn it around, the other half of me thinks he hangs it up following this year regardless of the lockout.
The number of talented point guards in the league seems to grow with each draft and the need for a point guard that shoots 34.7% from the field is rapidly shrinking.
Career Averages: 10.2 PTS, 8.1 AST, 3.5 BLK
I already made the Phil Jackson joke in the introduction.
There isn’t much left to say about Theo Ratliff, who has scored two points in eight games this year.
He’s done, lockout or not.
Career Averages: 18.4 PTS, 10.2 AST, 3.7 REB
The stress of playing for an owner who treats the franchise like a “Buy, Trade, or Sell” Craig’s List ad rather than a basketball team may turn his hair gray, but Steve Nash won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
The gritty two-time MVP plays harder than most in the league, opening him up to a variety of injuries throughout his career. I’m very sure that I’d be bed-ridden for weeks after some of the hits he takes and plays through.
But I don’t expect him to stop until he wins a title.
Career Averages: 10.3 PTS, 10 REB, 2.5 BLK
Marcus Camby’s scoring numbers are down this year, but he still cleans the glass better than most.
After getting banged up over the past few years, Camby is one player who could actually benefit from the year off. It’s a bit of a stretch, I’ll admit that, but a year off to focus on rehabilitating his creaky knees might not be the worst thing for him.
Teams still see a lot of value in Camby, evidenced by the lucrative two-year extension that Portland sent his way last spring.
Career Averages: 8.9 PTS, 3.1 AST, 2.2 REB
I would love to say that championship teams don’t employ point guards who average 7.6 points and 2.7 assists per game, but Derek Fisher’s 2010 stats are eerily similar to his stats last season, in which the Lakers won it all.
Two more years left on his deal with a player option for a third.
He’ll be back.
Career Averages: 12.4 PTS, 7.6 REB, 1.4 BLK
McDyess is still productive in the limited minutes he gets, with per-36 minute averages of 9.9 PTS and 10.5 REB per game.
But despite him having another year left on his contract, it’s tough to picture him coming back for another year.
At some point, the Spurs will be making that transition step that has been in the making for years now and he probably won’t make the cut.