Investigating why NBA veterans are retiring on one-day contracts with their favourite franchises

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The NBA can often be perceived as a cut-throat business where ties can be severed just as quickly as a player can hit a game-winning shot. Money is paramount both sides of the fence; teams need cap space and the players are the all important commodities.

But, somewhere along the line, sometimes, sentiment can take over. Being a 'face' of a franchise is more than just a saying, it's indicative of that player's value to their respective market.

How many jerseys can they shift? How much success have they brought? How popular are they in the mainstream media? On the court contributions should and normally do supersede everything else, but sometimes an emotional tie to the franchise has a higher meaning.

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Look at Kobe Bryant. Should the Lakers have given the Black Mamba $25 million in the final year of his careert? Absolutely no way, and they are probably paying for it now. This is a guy that was shooting nearly 10 percent below his average career field goal percentage in his 20th and final season in the league.

He also averaged 17.6 points a night in his final campaign - no doubt helped by his final 60-point outing - which was significantly down from his career average of 25 points a game.

But could the Lakers have let Kobe go? Never in a million years. He was the cornerstone of that franchise for two decades and brought five championships to the Staples Center. There would have been riots if he was allowed to finish up at a small market with no recognition.

Kevin Garnett spent 13 years with the Minnesota Timberwolves before heading to the Boston Celtics to win a title, but where is he now? Right back in Minnesota, of course.

A teammate of his from that 2008 triumph, Paul Pierce, is also said to be considering his basketball mortality. The forward currently turns out for the L.A. Clippers, but he was a resident for the Boston Celtics for 15 years at the start of his career.

Doc Rivers - coincidentally his coach in 2008 with Boston and now in L.A. - revealed on The Vertical podcast that Pierce harbours hopes of retiring a Celtic.

"If Paul decides to retire, then we're going to make sure that Boston picks him up for one day and he retires a Celtic, because that's what he should retire as," Rivers said. "So we have all that in place. We just don't know what he's going to do."

Amar'e Stoudemire was the first man to make such a jump this summer when he left the Miami Heat and finished his career with the New York Knicks, of whom he spent four-and-a-half years with.

The 33-year-old actually enjoyed the best years of his career with the Phoenix Suns where he truly established himself as an All-Star center. Alongside Steve Nash, the Suns were a very real threat in the west during that period.

"Once a Knick, Always a Knick."

Still, Stoudemire had his reasons: "I came to New York in 2010 to help revitalise this franchise and we did just that. Carmelo [Anthony], Phil and Steve have continued this quest, and with this year's acquisitions, the team looks playoff-bound once again. Although my career has taken me to other places around the country, my heart had always remained in the Big Apple. Once a Knick, Always a Knick."

If a legend doesn't have a place to call home, does it hurt their legacy? Shaquille O'Neal floated from franchise to franchise before finally calling it a day in 2011, but that doesn't make him any less great.

When you think of Shaq you still think Lakers. When you think of Gary Payton, you think Seattle Supersonics. Same with Allen Iverson and the Sixers; just because those legends didn't finish where they cemented themselves as greats, doesn't make their legacies mean any less. Dwyane Wade will always be a Heat man no matter what.

Tim Duncan, on the other hand, is Mr. San Antonio. That means something to some players and it's a trend that is likely to pick up more pace in the coming months and years.

Kobe Bryant
L.A. Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Dwyane Wade
Miami Heat
Southeast Division
Eastern Conference
Tim Duncan
San Antonio Spurs
Southwest Division

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