Every aging NBA player gets to a crossroads in his career - go to a contending team to win a title before retiring or serve as a mentor on a rebuilding franchise. James Posey shared his experience of reaching that crossroads and what eventually led to his early retirement.
Posey’s early retirement
James Posey was one of the original stretch forwards: tough defender, rebounder, and outside shooter. He may not have reached superstar status in his days, but Posey was good at what he did. He had a respectable clip from beyond the rainbow arc and averaged more than 80% from the charity stripe. An NBA journeyman who played on several teams, Posey ended his career in the ‘10/’11 season. According to him, that was not by design.
Posey, who won two titles, one with Miami Heat and one with Boston Celtics, is a contributor for Basketball News. In a recent story, he recalled what it’s like for players when December 15, the official start of trade season in the NBA, comes.
“The established superstars know that some of their teammates could be shipped out, while non-superstar players know they could be packing their bags.
Teams can trade you whenever they want, but as a player, if you make a trade request, people want to say that you’re spoiled or entitled or that you’re a quitter, things like that.”
James Posey, BasketballNews.com
Posey shared that he wanted to stay in New Orleans to play with David West and Chris Paul, but he was shipped to the rebuilding Indiana Pacers. When the coach that brought him in got fired, a young Frank Vogel clearly stated that James would not be in his plans. So the forward wanted a trade. However, the move backfired. Posey did not want a short contract as he was looking for more security, but no team wanted his services. After 12 years in the NBA, Posey decided the best thing to do was to retire.
Importance of player empowerment
Posey touched on an important aspect of life in the NBA today - player empowerment. Right now, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and James Harden have become poster boys for players wielding power as they see fit. During Posey’s time, players who wanted out were ridiculed. Durant, James, and Harden were all chastised for their decisions to leave the teams that drafted them. But they are now happy with the teams they chose to play for, having a much better chance of adding more rings to their legacy.
If Posey had the clout to demand a trade in his time, he would have played with a contender and possibly added one or two championships more before calling it a career. However, this shows the discrepancy in power between veterans and role players and superstars in the league.
The blueprint has been set for the young ones - work hard, reach individual goals such as All-Star games and help the team reach the postseason. It is only then that a player seems to earn the right to demand a trade if the front office fails to surround him with talent. It might not be fair to the team executives, but it’s also a way to bring back power to players in case of an unwanted trade - for instance, getting traded to the Pacers.