16 NBA Stars Who Are Going To Be Ready To Hang 'Em Up

Faizan Qurashi@@FaizanQurashiAnalyst IIAugust 2, 2011

16 NBA Stars Who Are Going To Be Ready To Hang 'Em Up

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    Age is the one thing that never goes down. No matter who, you're going to get old. And so with that in mind, we're going to look at the current (and past) NBA stars that are inching closer to that retirement speech. 

    We've recently witnessed the retirement of two of the greatest bigs to play this game in Shaquille O'Neal and Yao Ming. Will we be seeing more anytime soon? It's become pretty apparent that there is a new influx of young NBA stars such as Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin. And so the stars that began their careers in the '90s may have to call it a career sometime soon, seeing as how Father Time is catching up.

    And so here is a list of players in order of most years left to fewest years left. Enjoy.

Kobe Bryant

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    Age: 32

    Kobe Bryant is on the last legs of his prime, after he put up another "more than" respectable season by averaging about 25 points per game, along with five rebounds and more than four-and-a-half assists a game.

    "The Black Mamba" doesn't have the same explosiveness that he possessed in his peak years, and as a result has cultivated his game to make sure he doesn't fade out completely. This is evidenced by his patented fadeaway jump shot, his agile footwork and increased perimeter shot selection. However, last season did show that perhaps Bryant can't carry the Lakers in times of adversity as he did in past seasons, seeing as how the former champs were swept by the now defending champs, the Dallas Mavericks.

    Bryant, however, still has more than a few years left in his tank. He may not be winning another MVP award anytime soon, but his hunger for another title is unquestionable. Kobe will still be relevant for another half-decade.  

    Seasons Left To Retire: Five more at best

Dirk Nowitzki

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    Age: 33

    After coming off the best season of his career, Dirk Nowitzki is thinking about everything but retirement. However, at the age of 33, it's going to come sooner than later for Dirk. Even still, at this point in his career, Nowitzki has not only established himself as one of the top five players in the game, but also as the best power forward the NBA has to offer, and quite frankly, it's not even close. 

    Nowitzki's unique skill set is what will allow Dirk to stay at a high level longer than those who are at the same age as the NBA Finals MVP. Shooting is the one aspect you don't lose as you age. And since Dirk's game isn't based on athleticism, and rather on shooting, he'll be able to stay around longer than his contemporaries.

    Nowitzki is still in his prime, and retirement isn't on his agenda. Well, at least not yet.  

    Seasons Left To Retire: Five more at best

Paul Pierce

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    Age: 33

    Pierce, similar to Bryant, is nearing the end of his prime as he enters his 14th season. He's still been productive as the leader of the Celtics, averaging 19 points, five assists and more than five-and-a-half rebounds a game. Statistics, however, are not what Pierce is worried about, as he and his Celtics look to make another title run. 

    Pierce can still be productive for a couple more seasons, but more than likely, his scoring will dip as his role is reduced. I can't see Pierce playing way past his prime, as he seems more of someone who would like to go out on top. Still, out of the Big Three in Boston, Pierce has the most left in his tank.  

    Seasons Left To Retire: Four more at best

Vince Carter

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    Age: 34

    Athleticism is the first aspect of a player's game that fades away as Father Time catches up, and Vince Carter is no different. After putting in more than a decade of games filled with eye-popping dunks, flashy maneuvers and ridiculous athletic ability, Carter is nothing more than a former shell of himself.

    Nowadays, Carter finds himself more on the perimeter than any other spot on the floor, as his field-goal percentages have plummeted and taken his scoring with them. Last season, Carter averaged a paltry 14 points per game, one of the lowest of his career.

    Carter can still be productive for a few more seasons given the right team and system, and you might even see an occasional dunk here and there, but Carter is easily past his prime and there's no going back.  

    Seasons Left To Retire: Three more at best

Steve Nash

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    Age: 37

    It's incredible to see that Steve Nash is 37 years old, and still one of the top point guards in the league. There aren't too many players that can do it, but Nash will probably be one of the few that ends up playing until his 40s. His game is just built for longevity.

    Last season, Nash turned in another amazing season with 14.7 points and 11.4 assists (led the league) a game. 

    With two MVPs and a number of All-Star selections under his belt, all that's missing is the coveted NBA championship, and Nash is one of the few players left that actually deserves a ring. Seeing as how Nash hasn't showed any signs of slowing down, It wouldn't be a stretch to see Nash playing for a couple more seasons.  

    Seasons Left To Retire: Three more at best

Antawn Jamison

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    Age: 35

    Antawn Jamison is one of those few players that have been effective this late in their careers. Last season, Jamison averaged a surprising 18 points and six-and-a-half rebounds a game. Not bad for a 35-year-old.

    Still, Jamison is one of the oldest players in the league and doesn't have too much left in the tank. I could see him being effective for a few more seasons, seeing as how his game has become more and more perimeter-oriented.

    Jamison should spend his last few years chasing a title instead of being dead weight on a non-playoff team, as his contract makes him much too overpaid. Jamison still has some juice left to squeeze out. Time for him to utilize it to its fullest before it's too late.  

    Seasons Left To Retire: Three more at best

Shawn Marion

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    Age: 33

    The "Matrix" ain't what he used to be. The high-flying, lob-catching, springy Shawn Marion that played in Phoenix a couple seasons ago is far from the Shawn Marion you saw this past season with the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. Marion can still be productive, there's no doubt about that, but he's become reduced to merely a role player. 

    Marion's production has continually dipped season after season, as last year he averaged just 12.5 points and seven rebounds a game, the lowest since his rookie season. Marion's All-Star years are obviously behind him, and seeing as how he's already accepted his lesser role on a championship team, Marion could simply ride the ship for a couple more seasons and call it a career.  

    Seasons Left To Retire: Three more at best

Kevin Garnett

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    Age: 35

    "The Big Ticket" isn't as much of a hot commodity as he used to be. It's seems like an eternity ago that he had his MVP season with the T'Wolves. All that's in the past now, and Garnett has been reduced to nothing more than a former shell of himself. Occasionally, we'll see his trademark turnaround fadeaway jump shot or perhaps his monster dunks, but the only thing remaining from that MVP Garnett is his notorious screaming and yelling. 

    Last season, he averaged a mediocre 15 points per game, to go with nine rebounds and two-and-a-half assists a game. Injuries have caught up with KG, and with his contract ending soon with the Boston Celtics, Garnett just may have to call it a career. It'll be a shame too, because when he does, he'll go down as one of the greatest power forwards of all time.  

    Seasons Left To Retire: Two more at best

Tim Duncan

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    Age: 35

    Similar to his long-time rival, Kevin Garnett, Duncan is way past his prime. Last season, he averaged an abysmal 13.4 points, to go with nine rebounds a game. Even though his Spurs finished with the best record in the Western Conference, Duncan was far from the main reason. Entering his 15th season, Duncan has just about accomplished everything you could want as an NBA player with four championships, three NBA Finals MVPs, two NBA MVPs and a plethora of All-Star and Defensive Team selections.

    Duncan simply can't keep up with the young bigs in today's game. His minutes have reduced significantly as well as his role. Still, the Spurs are Duncan's team so when "The Big Fundamental" decides to hang 'em up, the Spurs will finally be able to rebuild and start over, as it'll be the end of an era. Duncan will retire as the Spurs' best player, one of the greatest of all time and arguably the greatest power forward to play the game.  

    Seasons Left To Retire: Two more at best

Tracy McGrady

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    Age: 32

    At one point, McGrady was one of the two best players in the league along with Kobe Bryant. Now, a handful of seasons and more than a few injuries later, McGrady is simply fighting for a job in the league. He spent last season with Detroit and averaged an embarrassing eight points, three-and-a-half assists as well as a three-and-a-half rebounds a game. 

    Now with all his athleticism gone and being a back injury away from retirement, McGrady is still trying to prove his worth in the league. His continual denial of his fading skill set certainly doesn't help his case either. McGrady is way past his prime and much too injury-prone to be effective at this point in his career. He's going to have to call it quits sooner or later. My bet is on the former.    

    Seasons Left To Retire: Two more at best

Chauncey Billups

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    Age: 34

    "Mr. Big Shot" has made himself quite a career. After bouncing around the league for a couple of seasons, Billups landed in Detroit, and the rest is history. After an NBA championship, an NBA Finals MVP and a handful of All-Star appearances, Billups is nearing the end of his surprisingly successful career. 

    Billups can still produce at a decent rate, as he chipped in about 17 points and five-and-a-half assists. Still, seeing as how Billups is on the tail end of his career, he might bounce around a bit more till he hangs 'em up. Either way, the clock is ticking and Billups doesn't have too much time left.  

    Seasons Left To Retire: Two more at best

Manu Ginobili

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    Age: 34

    Manu Ginobili was the definition of a "steal." After being drafted 57th back in the 1999 NBA draft, Ginobili has parlayed himself into three NBA titles, two All-Star appearances and a Sixth Man of the Year award. Now, at the age of 34, Ginobili isn't exactly the oldest in the league but his playing style has done more damage to his body than most his age. 

    With the Spurs dynasty coming to an abrupt end, and Tim Duncan inching close to retirement, it might be time for Ginobili to call it quits as well. His body simply can't hold up with all the injuries he has collected from his reckless drives to the basket and his wild style of play. Ginobili could stick around for a season or two, but anything longer and he's pushing it. 

    Seasons Left To Retire: Two More at Best

Jason Kidd

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    Age: 38

    There is a reason Dirk Nowitzki now calls Jason Kidd a "fossil." He is easily one of the oldest players in the league at 38. Kidd, however, finally won that elusive title to cap off what has been one of the greatest careers in the history of basketball. The Mavs still may have one more title run in them, but anything more and Jason Kidd could be into his 40s. 

    Kidd, however, is one of the few players that can still be effective into his 40s, as he's transformed his game to fit his age. No longer does Kidd worry about scoring the rock; he's simply concerned about finding his teammates and getting them involved. Kidd averaged an impressive eight-and-a-half assists to go along with his eight points a game. Still, if this lockout lasts into the season, Kidd may decide to hang 'em up.  

    Seasons Left To Retire: Two more at best

Grant Hill

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    Age: 38

    Ah, what could have been for Grant Hill had he not been hit by some serious injuries during the prime of his career. Still, Hill has managed to make the most out of his injury-riddled career and has had some respectable seasons with the Phoenix Suns. Last season, Hill averaged 13.4 points to go along with more than four rebounds a game. 

    Hill has kept himself in surprisingly good health, and as a result has played in 80-plus games for three straight seasons. Even at the prehistoric age of 38, Hill is still going strong. However, it doesn't seem as he'll be able to keep it up for long. Seeing as how the Suns are nowhere near title contenders, I could see Hill calling it quits in a year unless he hops onto a championship contender.  

    Seasons Left To Retire: One More at Best

Ben Wallace

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    Age: 36

    Ben Wallace turned his NBA career from lemon into lemonade. After being undrafted, Wallace went on to become a four-time Defensive Player of the Year, four-time NBA All-Star and an NBA champion. He's accomplished just about all a player at his level could. And now, after 16 long seasons, he could decide to hang 'em up.

    Wallace is nothing more than a mere ghost of his former self. He's lost his lateral movement, agility, defensive prowess and most of all, his non-stop motor. He's nothing more than an adequate rebounder, and a complete liability on offense at this point in his career. After bouncing around the league a bit, Wallace finally returned back to Detroit and now might be the best time to end it in the city that made Ben Wallace relevant.   

    Seasons Left To Retire: One more at best

Jermaine O'Neal

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    Age: 32

    Even though Jermaine O'Neal is still just 32, he's packed a lot of mileage into his body. After entering the league as a high schooler, O'Neal has put in many more minutes than his same-age counterparts. In the prime of his career, O'Neal was one of the best big men in the league, easily averaging over 20 points and grabbing nearly 10 rebounds a game.

    Now, at the tail end of his career, O'Neal has been riddled with injury after injury and has been reduced to nothing more than a mere role player. It doesn't seem as if O'Neal's knees can keep up much longer. And after multiple All-Star appearences and a Most Improved Player Award, it might be time for O'Neal to hang 'em up.  

    Seasons Left To Retire: One more at best

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