Injuries and age may have knocked Kobe Bryant down a few pegs among the league’s best players, but no one can touch him atop the list of the longest tenured players in the NBA. He’s been a member of the Lakers for more than 19 years, and while it seems like he’ll fall just shy of making it into a third decade with the team, with his contract set to expire June 30th and the expectation that he’ll retire at that point, that’s not a certainty just yet, as we discussed Sunday.
Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki are the only other players to have been with their respective teams since the 1990s, with a wide gap between them and fellow 2003 draftees Dwyane Wade and Nick Collison. This list doesn’t include players who had non-consecutive terms with teams. If it did, Kevin Garnett would be No. 1, having originally joined the Timberwolves in the 1995 draft, nearly 20 years before he rejoined the team at the trade deadline in February.
The past year has seen little turnover atop the list, as the six players who’ve been with their teams the longest are the same from this past October, when we last compiled the ranking. It seemed at that point that LaMarcus Aldridge, No. 7 on last year’s list, would continue to stick around the Trail Blazers, but he changed his mind about recommitting to Portland and signed with the Spurs instead. He’s one of 10 among the 30 players on last year’s list to have changed teams. Thus, the players listed for the Blazers, Celtics, Kings, Pacers, Hornets, Nuggets, Pistons, Bucks, Knicks and Sixers are all different, though Philadelphia remains the team with the longest tenured player who’s been there the shortest time. That distinction belongs to Nerlens Noel, who finished third in Rookie of the Year voting just this past season after sitting out his first year with the team.
Markieff Morris is the Suns’ entry on this list, but he’d like that to change, having demanded a trade. He could eventually wind up back on this list for his next team, the way Carmelo Anthony has done for the Knicks more than four years since he pushed his way off the Nuggets. The ‘Melo trade gave Denver two players who now share the title of longest tenured Nugget. Both Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, fresh off renegotiations and extensions, don’t appear to be heading elsewhere anytime soon.
See the full list here:
- Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant. Acquired via trade on July 11th, 1996.
- San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan. Drafted on June 25th, 1997.
- Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki. Acquired via trade on June 24th, 1998.
- Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade. Drafted on June 26th, 2003.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Nick Collison. Drafted on June 26th, 2003.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Anderson Varejao. Acquired via trade on July 23rd, 2004.
- Atlanta Hawks: Al Horford. Drafted on June 28th, 2007.
- Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley. Drafted on June 28th, 2007.
- Chicago Bulls: Joakim Noah. Drafted on June 28th, 2007.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Nikola Pekovic. Drafted on June 26th, 2008.
- Brooklyn Nets: Brook Lopez. Drafted on June 26th, 2008.
- Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan. Drafted on June 26th, 2008.
- Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry. Drafted on June 25th, 2009.
- Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan. Drafted on June 25th, 2009.
- Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins. Drafted on June 24th, 2010.
- Indiana Pacers: Paul George. Drafted on June 24th, 2010.
- Boston Celtics: Avery Bradley. Drafted on June 24th, 2010.
- Washington Wizards: John Wall. Drafted on June 24th, 2010.
- Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward. Drafted on June 24th, 2010.
- Denver Nuggets: Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari. Acquired via trade on February 22nd, 2011.
- New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony. Acquired via trade on February 22nd, 2011.
- Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker. Drafted on June 23rd, 2011.
- Phoenix Suns: Markieff Morris. Drafted on June 23rd, 2011.
- Houston Rockets: Donatas Motiejunas. Acquired via trade on June 24th, 2011.
- New Orleans Pelicans: Eric Gordon. Acquired via trade on December 14th, 2011.
- Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard. Drafted on June 28th, 2012.*
- Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond. Drafted on June 28th, 2012.
- Milwaukee Bucks: John Henson. Drafted on June 28th, 2012.
- Orlando Magic: Andrew Nicholson. Drafted on June 28th, 2012.
- Philadelphia 76ers: Nerlens Noel. Acquired via trade on July 10th, 2013.
Note: We went by the date a player was drafted, rather than the date that he signed his first contract. If multiple teams selected their longest-tenured players in the same draft, the team that made its pick first is the first team listed.
* — The Trail Blazers selected Meyers Leonard, who’s also still with the team, later in the same draft.
Aside from Markieff Morris, which of the players on the list do you think will be the next to change teams? Leave a comment to tell us.