5 NBA players who could be out of a job in 2021
The NBA is a remarkably small fraternity. There’s only room for 450 players at any time, and new players are constantly trying to worm their way in through free agency and the league’s annual draft. Something has to give, and more often than not, it’s the league’s vets who are shown the door first when their contracts come to an end.
We’ve examined the rosters of all 30 teams and have identified the five future free agents who could be out of a job next season due to their declining skills and inability to keep up with the NBA’s young bucks.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Dallas Mavericks)
It’s put up or shut up time for MKG. The second overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft has failed to show significant improvement since entering the league as a 19-year-old rookie. His jumpshot remains irrevocably broken eight years into his career, and his criminal lack of range makes him a liability on offense.
The Mavs took a flyer on Kidd-Gilchrist in February after he was waived by the Hornets, but the early results have been far from glowing. The Kentucky product averaged just 0.4 points per game in nine contests and is unlikely to see the court during the playoffs.
Thon Maker (Detroit Pistons)
At this point in his career, Thon Maker is better known for being a human toothpick than an NBA player. The 7-foot, 221-pounder has underwhelmed fans and coaches alike during stints in Milwaukee and Detroit, where he’s presently averaging just 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
Maker’s size and upside will undoubtedly intrigue some teams, but his resume should make them think twice about signing him to a long-term deal.
Patrick Patterson (Los Angeles Clippers)
You’re not alone if you’re surprised to see that Patrick Patterson is still on an NBA roster. The journeyman power forward is averaging just 11.9 minutes per game this season with the Clippers and has become something of an afterthought following L.A’s highly publicized acquisition of Marcus Morris on Feb. 6.
"Pat Pat" can still nail open threes, and his $2.3 million contract is far from outrageous, but don’t be surprised if the Clippers - and other teams - take a pass on Patterson in search of younger players with a higher ceiling.
Bruno Caboclo (Houston Rockets)
Fran Fraschilla famously dismissed Bruno Caboclo at the 2014 NBA Draft by saying the Brazilian prospect was "Two years away from being two years away." Well, that was six years ago, and he still looks like he’s two years away from being a bona fide NBA player.
The well-traveled 24-year-old has already played with four different franchises, and has failed to make much of an impression on any of them. Toronto and Memphis both traded him, and Houston waived him in 2018, before reacquiring him again at the 2020 trade deadline.
Caboclo still has the size and range that made him so enticing as a teenager, but has yet to demonstrate that he has a real feel for the game. Don’t be surprised if the Rockets give him his walking papers again at the end of the season.
Jared Dudley (Los Angeles Lakers)
Jared Dudley is, by all accounts, a phenomenal teammate and locker room presence. His fellow players rave about his veteran leadership and his ability to bring his peers together. There’s just one problem: he’s four years past his prime and is averaging 1.5 points in 7.8 minutes per game.
The 34-year-old Dudley still has a place in the NBA, but that place is behind the bench with the team’s player development staff. His knowledge and demeanor will make him a tremendous asset when his career inevitably comes to an end.