With so much talent coming from the NBA draft, and G-league, oftentimes we forget about players who already played in the NBA, but aren’t in the NBA anymore. This could be due to a variety of things, such as injury history, substance abuse problems, locker room reputation, deciding to play overseas, or they just haven’t been fortunate enough to get another call from NBA teams.
Here are 10 players who are still young enough to play in the league, if given the chance.
Andrew Bynum has made 73 million dollars in his NBA career. Before injuries occurred he was one of the best big men in the NBA. Bynum was an NBA All-Star in 2012 and 2 time NBA Champion as the starting center for the Los Angeles Lakers. Bynum’s best season was back in 2011-12 where he averaged 18.7 ppg, 11.8 RPG, and 1.9 BPG on 56% shooting. Bynum was traded to the Sixers but never suited up and played.
With traditional big men becoming obsolete in today’s game, Bynum would have to change his game and become more of a rim runner to be effective. Andrew Bynum is still only 32 years old and could serve as a backup center if he has anything left in the tank.
Brandon Jennings was once the lone star on the Milwaukee Bucks. Nobody can ever forget about his 55 point performance as a rookie in only his 7th game against the Golden State Warriors. It remains tied with Kareem as the second-highest points haul by any Bucks player in history, beaten only by Michael Redd‘s 57 point performance in 2006.
Brandon was a shoot-first point guard, with a quick first step and an even quicker handle. He had one of the smoothest jump shots and unguardable floater. Unfortunately, after injuring his Achilles, Jennings was never quite the same and couldn’t find the right team to utilize him properly. He’s only 30 years old and could still be a spark plug off the bench for any team in the NBA.
Jan Vesely, the former 6th overall pick for the Washington Wizard never found his footing in the NBA. He only lasted 3 seasons in the NBA, before returning to play overseas where he has had a successful career.
In the 2018-2019 season Jan Vesely won EuroLeague MVP which put him back on NBA teams’ radar. Jan Vesely is only 30 years old and can play the power forward or center position in the NBA. With his mobility and athleticism he could excel in the modern-day NBA, if he decides to give the NBA another shot.
Nikola Mirotic had a short but successful NBA career with Chicago Bulls, Pelicans, and Milwaukee Bucks. Mirotic’s ability to shoot the ball in the NBA made him the perfect stretch 4. He was a tremendous asset on the perimeter as he owns a 35.9 shooting clip from three throughout his professional career. He was also a member of the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team in 2015.
In 2019 Mirotic signed a three-year deal, with the option of an extension through to 2023, with FC Barcelona, making him the highest-paid basketball player in Europe. Mirotic will be 32 once his contract is up and NBA teams will be interested in his services.
The former No.3 overall pick who was incredibly talented and skilled. He had excellent shooting ability and ability to create separation from defenders and score in a variety of ways. Mayo scored 30 or more points seven times in his rookie season, and was the runner-up for the 2008–09 NBA Rookie of the Year Award, finishing second behind Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose. Mayo was a scorer, but the problem was his scoring ability didn’t help the Memphis Grizzlies produce enough wins. Mayo got moved into the 6th man role, which hurt his overall value in the league.
After stints with the Mavericks and Bucks, Mayo was dismissed and disqualified from the NBA in 2016 for two years for violating the terms of the league’s anti-drug program, the first player to receive that punishment in a decade. Mayo hasn’t played in the NBA since and is only 32 years old. Who knows if he will get another chance or not, but you know what they say, once a scorer, always a scorer.
Larry Sanders was a defensive stud and great rim protector. He made positive contributions to the Bucks when he played. Blocking shots, getting rebounds and dunks was his role. He was the definition of rim runner before that became the typical role for most NBA centers today. He was ahead of his time.
Unfortunately, after dealing with several injuries and marijuana suspension, Sanders retired in the prime of his career. Which happens to be after the first year of his four-year 44 million dollar contract. Sanders, who was dealing with anxiety and depression, became one of the first NBA players to speak out about mental health.
Since being retired, Sanders has focused on his music career which has been successful working with several artists including Partynextdoor. Sanders was last seen playing in the BIG 3 in 2019 and is only 31 years old.
Jeremy Lin is the first Asian American to win an NBA championship and is universally known from his Linsanity days. Where he averaged 14.9 points and 6.2 assists over 35 magical game stretch with the New York Knicks. Jeremy Lin was a capable NBA scorer who once was a starter until injuries started to derail his career.
After years of struggling to find a meaningful role, Lin decided to sign with Beijing Shougang Ducks. Lin is only 31 years old and could most likely jump straight back to the NBA, if teams show interest in him following his season in China.
Darren Collison was in talks with the Los Angeles Clippers & Lakers earlier this season about a possible return to the NBA. He chose to stay retired and not to come back this season, but that doesn’t mean he won’t return to the NBA the following season. Darren is a point guard who can run a team’s offense in the first or second unit.
He’s a smart player who’s very efficient when it comes to shooting the ball. He avenged 11.2 points, 6 assists while shooting 40.7 percent from the 3 point line, and 46.7 percent from the entire field. Darren is only 32, and returning to the NBA seems promising for next season, especially with a title contender.
It might seem like Lance Stephenson is older than he is, but he’s only 29 years old. He played well for the Lakers in a small role shooting 37.1 percent from deep in 2018-19 on his way to averaging 7.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. He’s been playing in China on a 1-year deal for 4 million dollars, and that’s more so by choice. He didn’t want to pass up on that deal after he wasn’t signed in the first round of free agency last year.
Since he’s been playing well in China, a return for the NBA seems more than likely. Stephenson is still a valuable player that can handle the ball and guard multiple positions. In the right situation, he could be a useful rotation player, and possibly even a 6th man.
I know what you’re thinking, how many times can a guy go to China and return to the NBA. Michael Beasley has been going back and forth for years, but that’s because he’s so talented. He’s a scoring machine that can provide teams with instant offense, and headaches. He’s a hybrid wing player that can guard multiple positions as well.
Beasley is only 31 and probably will get one more chance to make things work in the NBA. He can be useful under the right circumstances, like when he played for the Knicks 2017-2018 season. He averaged 13.2 points and 5.6 rebounds in 22 minutes per game. He shot 50.7 percent from the field — 39.5 from 3-point range.