With so many players currently in the league’s Health and Safety Protocols, there’s space on a number of team’s rosters for some guys we’d like to see make a return to the NBA. 

NBA League Pass: Sign up to unlock live out-of-market games (7-day free trial)

Some make total sense, others are just some guys we think would make the league that much more fun through a turbulent season. 

Ray Allen 

Straight off the bat, why wouldn’t anyone want to see ‘Sugar’ Ray back in the league for any other reason than it’s Ray Allen? Factor in Steph Curry recently passing him for the all-time three-pointers made record and this narrative suddenly gets a little juicier. 

Bring him back home to the Bucks and let Giannis and Jrue and Khris get him the open looks. Just to make it even more interesting, imagine him playing alongside Curry on the Warriors? 

Curry is currently at 2,986 career threes made, only 13 ahead of Allen so wouldn’t it be fun to watch these two battle it out in real-time for 3-point record?

Sure, Steph still wins out in the long run, but seeing Jesus Shuttlesworth’s perfect shooting form in the modern NBA with a license to shoot one more time would be so sweet. 

(NBA Getty Images)

JR Smith 

The two-time NBA champion is pursuing a degree in liberal studies at North Carolina A&T State University and playing golf for the school team. 

Smith spent 16 seasons in the NBA playing for five franchises and won titles with LeBron James in 2016 as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and in 2020 with the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s 36 now but still appears to be in great shape. It seems like he’s comfortable in the next chapter of his life as a student, and overall inspiration, but you’re telling us it wouldn’t be fun to see the Swish Gawd back in the league gunning just one more time? 

MORE: 2021-22 NBA Christmas Day guide | List of players in NBA’s health and safety protocols

Dante Exum 

The fact that Exum is not already on an NBA roster is questionable. 

The Australian entered the NBA with high hopes after being drafted No.5 overall by the Utah Jazz in the 2014 NBA draft but has been plagued by injury throughout his career. Exum had spent the first five-and-a-half seasons of his NBA career with the Utah Jazz, before spending some time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and then being included in the blockbuster four-team trade that saw the Brooklyn Nets land James Harden, arriving in Houston.

Exum impressed during the Olympics helping secure Australia’s first men’s international medal with his tenacious defense and 3-point shooting. He finished the bronze medal game with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting and two assists.

The Houston Rockets were impressed enough to sign him to an incentive-laden deal, but he was waived prior to the season. He’s currently playing for Barcelona in the Spanish League, and on December 23rd, he had his best game for the club, scoring 13 points (3-of-6 field goals) grabbing two rebounds and two assists in an overtime win against Unics. 

His Barcelona deal expires on February 28 so a return to the NBA could be on the cards if he impresses in Spain. 

Nick Young 

There was a time when Nick Young was one of the most dependable three-point shooters in the NBA. He’s played in the league for 12 seasons for six franchises, and also has NBA championship experience.

Most recently he played for the Enemies in Ice Cube’s Big 3 league. Even though he’s been out of the NBA for three seasons now he is definitely not washed, and he can still hoop. 

(NBA Getty Images)

Jeremy Lin 

Lin tried to make an NBA comeback and latched onto the Santa Cruz minor league affiliate team of the Warriors in the NBA’s G League last year. Lin played well, averaging 19.8 points per game and 6.4 assists with Santa Cruz in nine games, but the NBA call-up never came. 

“For months, I saw others get contracts, chances, opportunities,” Lin wrote on Instagram on May 18. “I told myself I just need ONE ten-day contract, one chance to get back on the floor and I would blow it out the water. After all that’s how my entire career started – off one chance to prove myself. For reasons I’ll never fully know, that chance never materialized. But I proved I’m better than ever and an NBA player.”

Lin is now with the Beijing Ducks in the Chinese CBA, but given the Knicks’ current battles with injury and Covid protocols, wouldn’t a finale in New York be the ultimate bookend to Lin’s NBA career? 

(NBA Getty Images)

Matthew Dellavedova 

Dellavedova’s time in the NBA was polarizing. He was provocative, he got the people going. 

While a member of the Cavaliers, he was loved by everyone in Cleveland. Opposing fans, not so much. Every loose ball, ‘Delly’ was diving for it. Need some gritty defense? Delly’s got you. He had his breakout playing alongside LeBron James in the 2015 Finals. 

“He’s made of steel, or something,” James said. “If there’s a ball on the ground, he’s going to be the first guy to the ground. He showed up multiple times tonight. He’s huge. He’s huge for our team. He gives us that grit, that grit that we need. He gives us everything until the tank is empty, and he has a small little reserve tank that he continues to work through. He’s huge for us.”

A variety of ailments, including a concussion, whiplash, an emergency appendectomy, and a neck strain, derailed his second stint with the Cavaliers, but he’s currently playing with Melbourne United in Australia’s National Basketball League. With teams looking to bolster their playoff rosters deeper into the NBA season, Delly could be back playing sooner than we think.