With so many players getting quarantined due to COVID, there have been plenty of players coming out of the woodwork to help teams fill out their roster. Players like Joe Johnson and Isaiah Thomas have made their way back to playing in games. Darren Collison came back after two years, while JR Smith is fielding calls after a successful collegiate golf season. If there was a chance for a player to have one more ride in the league, it would be now.
Now that the pool for NBA talent is shrinking, what about the players that have retired in recent years? That includes some of the older ones who haven’t played in a decade. Tom Brady just made the Pro Bowl at the age of 44. You know some of these NBA players are still in great shape.
Which retired NBA player could come out and help a team right now? These are just a few suggestions.
Joakim Noah - Chicago Bulls
The Bulls already had Joakim Noah Night this season to honor the former big man into the team’s Hall of Fame. Noah, the all-time franchise leader in offensive rebounds, would be welcomed back with a standing ovation. When Noah played for the Bulls, he once finished fourth in the MVP voting and won a Defensive Player of the Year. He was the emotional leader of the team and that is something you don’t just lose.
If Noah came back to the Bulls, he would probably play Udonis Haslem minutes, which is virtually no minutes at all. With that said, imagine a high-flying dunk from Zach LaVine or a turnaround midrange jumped from DeMar DeRozan, and you see Noah’s energy on the sidelines. There is something to be said about intangibles and Noah has plenty of those.
Kyle Korver - Chicago Bulls
Some players just don’t lose their shooting stroke. Even at 40 years old, Korver could probably still knock down a wide open three-point shot. When Korver was 38 years old in 2019-2020, he still connected on 41% of his three point shots and he was talking about four shots a game.
The Bulls don’t have a true outside shooting threat with the second unit. Coby White can knock down some shots, but he’s not a proven outside shooter. With Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, and White all able to penetrate the lane, there are times where some of the team’s players are left wide open. All Korver would have to do is stand on the baseline and be ready to shoot. Even at 40, he could still do it.
JJ Redick - Brooklyn Nets
Speaking of outside shooting, Redick shouldn’t let one down year ruin his overall career. Redick retired after last year in what was one of his worst overall shooting performances. With that said, when he joined the Mavericks, he was shooting 39.5% from three-point range. Maybe, it was all Stan Van Gundy’s flawed system and not the basketball talents of Redick.
If Redick joined the Nets, the team could implement Joe Harris with the starters and Redick with the second unit. Once Kyrie Irving starts playing, it will move Patty Mills back to the bench. Having Mills and Redick could be a veteran-savvy bench that could help keep the Nets putting points on the board.
Vince Carter - Golden State Warriors
Every good team needs a wise man. Granted, the team already has one if you count James Wiseman, but that is not the type of player we are talking about. Vince Carter is the only player in NBA history to play in four different decades. He owns a wealth of NBA knowledge. Nobody needs “Vinsanity” these days. They just need someone who has gone through the wringer.
Selfishly, wouldn’t it be nice to see Carter win a championship? The Warriors are a title contender this season and Carter could ride the coattails to the end. However, it wouldn’t be for nothing. His expertise could come in handy for some of the young players like Wiseman, Moses Moody, Jordan Poole, and Jonathan Kuminga.
Ray Allen - Miami Heat
Ray Allen was old when he joined the Heat the first time. What should stop him this time around? Allen was 37 years old when he joined the Heat in 2013 and he was 38 in his final season with Miami. It’s been about eight years since Allen has suited up, which has included him making the Hall of Fame in 2018. Again, we refer back to our previous point that some players never lose their shooting stroke, even if that player is 46 years old.
Allen, the former all-time leading three-point shooter, could give a team a three-pointer once per night, right? Allen looks like he is in great shape. If Allen is open, he could knock it down. Besides, maybe he could make a run at regaining his record back from Curry, which might sound just as asinine as Allen coming out of retirement in the first place.
Pau Gasol - Los Angeles Lakers
Gasol was playing basketball up this past summer in the Olympics. Gasol is a Laker favorite that will always be beloved by the franchise. Gasol was Kobe Bryant’s right-hand man when the team made the NBA Finals in 2008, 2008, and 2010, which included championships in 2009 and 2010. At 41 years old, Gasol has remained in basketball condition.
At this point, the Lakers have tried every old former All-Star. With Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, and Rajon Rondo on the roster, why not give Gasol a chance? His brother Marc played last year. Maybe they picked the wrong Gasol.
Dirk Nowitzki - Dallas Mavericks
There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that if Joe Johnson can come back and make a basket at 41, that Nowitzki could come back and hoop at 43. Even if Nowitzki didn’t make a basket, the Mavericks have a culture issue and it’s not getting fixed with Jason Kidd. Why not bring back the greatest player in team history to help set the record straight.
The relationship between Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis was reported to be toxic before the year began. Now, we are starting to wonder if Doncic can play with anyone. Nobody is going to disregard what Nowitzki says in the locker room. If anything, bring him back as a player/coach.
Kevin Garnett - Boston Celtics
Speaking of culture shock, the Celtics could use one of those these days. We got a first-hand glimpse of the relationship issues in the locker room when Marcus Smart called out the team publicly. It’s unlikely that Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum are vibing these days. A player like Garnett would get the locker room back to loving each other.
Garnett is potentially one of the best overall leaders in the history of the game. Garnett led a bad Timberwolves franchise to the top in 2004. He won a championship in 2008, where he probably should have won Finals MVP. Plus, at 45 years old, he probably could psyche the youngster out with his old-school trash talk.
Dwyane Wade - Miami Heat
Wade retired from the league in 2019 but remains just 39 years old. He is only two years older than LeBron James and could probably still suit up for a team and contribute. The Miami Heat believe they are contenders to come out of the Eastern Conference. Imagine having Wade and Udonis Haslem as players/coaches.
With that said, could Wade even come back? He is a minority owner of the Utah Jazz and frequently communicates with the players. If he came back, would he secretly try to sabotage one potential threat in Utah’s way? All jokes aside, Wade could come back and score 15 points per game easily.
Shaquille O’Neal - Los Angeles Lakers
Shaq hasn’t played since 2011 and will turn 50 years old in March. However, Shaq claims that he is in great shape. He says he has a six-pack, works out, and could hang with anyone in the league. With the amount of smack talk he gives on TNT while talking about some of today’s players, it would be nice to see if he could truly mean his words.
The perfect scenario would be Shaq returning to the Lakers, a team he led to three championships with three Finals MVPs, to team up with LeBron, Anthony, and Howard to silence the young pups of the world. The oldest team in the league would be even older, but imagine Shaq’s grin while yelling into the camera “I told you so” while holding the Larry O’Brien trophy after the Lakers won the title.