Former NBA Players Still Playing and Thriving in Europe
Professional basketball players have other options to continue their career outside of the NBA
The NBA is the top of the mountain for any basketball player with professional aspirations. While that is where one can find the most money and fame, there are also vibrant options in other markets overseas. Some players, who began the careers in the NBA, didn’t stick around and have gone on to embark on successful careers in the Euro League.
Anthony Randolph: After going one and done at LSU, the 6’10” forward was considered an exciting, if not raw, prospect who was drafted with the 14th overall selection in the 2008 draft by the Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, he could never really get thing going, playing for four teams over six years. Primarily coming off the bench, he appeared in just 252 games, averaging 15.2 minutes, 7.1 points and 4.3 rebounds. Out of the league following the 2013–14 season when he was just 24, he has gone on to play in Europe since, including spending the past four seasons with Real Madrid. The different environment has been a pleasing one, as he has averaged 10.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and connected on 38.5% of his three-point attempts during his time abroad.
Amar’e Stoudemire: The big man went directly to the NBA out of high school. The only thing preventing him from a slam-dunk Hall-of-Fame career were a series of knee injuries, which ended his NBA run following 14 seasons in 2015–16 at the age of 33. Even so, his career averages of 18.9 points and 7.8 rebounds will garner him serious consideration. He has been unwilling to let his failing body prevent him from continuing to play, as he has since played in China and the Euro League. In 2019–2020, playing for the Fujian Sturgeons in China, the 37-year-old showed he still has it, averaging 19.4 points and 8.3 rebounds in 11 games. He finished up the most recent season in Israel. He also holds an ownership stake in the Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem team, which he played for in 2016–2017.
Nick Calathes: Following two strong seasons at the University of Florida, the point guard jumped to the NBA as a second-round selection of the Memphis Grizzlies in 2009. He opted to play in Greece for the next four years as a part-time player before finally joining the team that had taken him out of college. Two years later, after averaging just 4.6 points and 2.7 assists coming off the bench, he headed back to Europe to resume his career and take on more playing time than he had before. Now having completed 10 European seasons, he boasts career averages of 9.2 points, 5.5 assists and 1.4 steals. Still just 31, it’s not inconceivable that he may be seen stateside again before he decided to hang them up.
Luis Scola: The forward is still in the midst of a career that has now spilled over into three different decades. He began in Europe during the 1999–2000 season and spent most of the next decade there with impressive results. He joined the Houston Rockets in 2007, five years after they took a flier on him in the second round of the 2002 draft. He spent the next 10 years in the NBA, playing for five different teams, averaging 12 points and 6.7 rebounds. He returned abroad following the 2016–2017 season and has spent stints in China (averaging 27.8 points and 13.8 rebounds in 2017–2018) and Europe. Now 40, he just wrapped up another season averaging 9.9 points and 4.0 rebounds in Italy and could be back for more. In 13 international seasons, he has accumulated averages of 16.3 points and 6.7 rebounds.
Greg Monroe: The seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft, the center arrived with major promise after a stand-out career with Georgetown. Over the next nine years he became a solid player but never gained the stardom that many believed he was capable of, averaging 13.2 points and 8.3 rebounds. He spent this past season with Bayern Munich in the Euro League and averaged 12.9 points and 6.3 rebounds. He is still only 30, so he should have options on both sides of the pond remaining as he continues through his career. His days as an NBA regular are likely over but he could re-emerge with a team looking for a seasoned big man.