Often in the NBA, we remember players who have spent their whole careers with one or two teams. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson established the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, Jordan brought six championships to the Bulls, Kobe has spent his whole career with the Lakers, and John Stockton spent his whole career with Utah.
However, we often forget the journeymen of the league. Guys like Jim Jackson, Mike James, Earl Boykins, and Damon Jones remind us that true professionals are able to find homes all across the league. Every team in the league continually tells themselves that they need that old veteran to teach the young players, a true locker room presence that provides professionalism and leadership.
As the NBA gets younger every year, so do the locker rooms that they occupy. The lockers rooms no longer have at least one or two players that have ten-plus years in the league. Teams such as the Denver Nuggets (after the Andre Miller trade) and the Philadelphia 76ers (no, Jason Richardson doesn’t count as a player on this team) struggle to have even one player that is over 30 years old.
It makes it even more impressive for guys like this to stay in the league for so long. As we count down the active players who have played on the most teams in their careers, it becomes a true testament to their locker-room presence and ability on the floor. Honorable mentions go out to Shannon Brown, Reggie Evans, Ronny Turiaf, and Jannero Pargo for traveling through 7 teams but barely just missed the top 10 based on their impact to their current teams.
T5. Steve Blake, Number of Teams: 7, Career Earnings: $32,746,977
After the trade deadline this year, Steve Blake’s wife took to Twitter saying that “telling your kids daddy can’t live with us anymore until this summer is just as heartbreaking the third time around as it was the first two.” Well, if it’s any consolation, the trade did put Steve into a very valued group across the NBA.
After landing in Golden State, Blake cracks the top 10 list of the most traveled players in the NBA. Described by Kobe Bryant as a “psycho competitor,” Blake moves on to the 7th team of his career and the Warriors could not be happier to have him. Taking over the role that Jarrett Jack had last year, Blake provides the Warriors with a backup point guard that can shoot, defend, and set up plays for his teammates.
T5. Gerald Green, Number of Teams: 7, Career Earnings: $12,412,956
Known as a high-flying athlete that came out of high school in 2005, Gerald Green seems to have found a home with his 7th team. After an unproductive year in Indiana last year, Green was traded to Phoenix with Miles Plumlee for Luis Scola. Scola provides bench scoring for the Pacers, and Green has turned into a miracle worker in Phoenix.
At only 28 years old, it seems like Green has played for almost every NBA team in the league. After going through the D-League, Green came back to the NBA in 2011 with the New Jersey Nets. This year, Green is one of the best streaky scorers in the league, plus his ability to glide through the air puts fans in the seats.
T5. Jermaine O’Neal, Number of Teams: 7, Career Earnings: $168,794,021
This once upon a time All-Star has been riddled with injuries since the late 2000s. JO was once renowned for his ability to post-up, take mid-range jumpers to stretch the defense, and his strong will on defense. Now, he is known as a strong locker room character that brings toughness.
As one of the oldest players on Golden State, O’Neal provides a rugged style of play that was lacking on the team. He’s not afraid to bang in the post and get his hands dirty. O’Neal proves himself as a formidable backup, and has embraced his veteran role on the team as he hopes to win his first Championship.
T5. Caron Butler, Number of Teams: 7, Career Earnings: $77,125,677
This guy is really Tuff Juice, and you’d know it just by looking at him. The former UConn Huskie has traveled through the NBA, spending most of his glory years with the Washington Wizards. During that time, he held the franchise record for the most consecutive free throws made (73). This is also the same guy who, instead of chewing gum, would chew bit off pieces of straws until the league deemed it too dangerous to chew on.
Now, Butler graces the Thunder locker room with his tough defense and his three-point shot. Although he’s not as athletic as he used to be, he brings a championship mindset to the team, making him as valuable of a member as can be.
T5. Al Harrington, Number of Teams: 7, Career Earnings (so far): $86,514,819
As a member of the Wizards, Harrington has been seen sitting on the bench and occasionally jumping on the hardwood for a three-point shot. Although he’s only averaged 6.5 ppg, and 1.9 rpg, Harrington brings veteran presence to a young team.
With young stars like John Wall and Bradley Beal, veteran leadership is always a necessity and the Wizards have plenty of it. With Trevor Ariza, Nene, Andre Miller, and Al Harrington as the team leaders, the Wizards are on pace to hit the playoffs this year and will show what they’ve really got in store.
T5. Chauncey Billups, Number of Teams: 7, Career Earnings: $107,227,720
Although Billups’ picture on this website is during his time from the Clippers, there is no doubt that Billups will always be remembered for his time as a Detroit Piston. Now in his second stint with the team, Billups is not relied upon to do the same things that he did the first time around.
Billups is suffering from injuries and barely plays but he brings championship experience and veteran leadership. His biggest task seems to be teaching younger point guards like Brandon Jennings how to play the game properly, how to get his teammates involved, and how to be floor general, skills that Chauncey used to bring the city a Championship.
T2. Matt Barnes, Number of Teams: 8, Career Earnings: $15,827,372
Matt Barnes has been a cherished defender everywhere he’s gone. Seen as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, Barnes could always be counted on for his tireless defense and his ability to knock down threes. Combine that with the tattoos all over his body, and Barnes becomes a player to not be trifled with.
Barnes is seen as one of the tough guys in the league, and it makes sense. After a two-year stint in the D-League, Barnes pushed his way on to the Clippers roster in 2004. After going through 7 other teams over 8 years, Barnes returned back to the Clippers and gives them a strong wing defender and great teammate.
T2. Keith Bogans, Number of Teams: 8, Career Earnings: $19,140,381
Bogans is known for his time with the Magic, Bucks, and Bulls as a three point shooter and solid perimeter defender. However, Bogans has been easily forgotten for his contributions to the Celtics. Bogans was excused from the team indefinitely in early 2014.
Bogans has been in the league for 10 years and it’s easy to forget he’s signed on for more. Since the next two years of his contract aren’t guaranteed, it’ll be interesting to see what the Celtics do with this long-time journeyman of the NBA.
T2. Nazr Mohammed, Number of Teams: 8, Career Earnings: $63,713,728
Although Mohammed was known for being a strong center for competitors in the mid 2000s, he has been recently in the spotlight for pushing LeBron during the 2013 playoffs. Now, Mohammed graces the Bulls bench as their savvy 15-year veteran.
Despite his age, Mohammed has played in 61 (out of 63) games for the Bulls and has recorded a whopping 1.5 ppg, and 2.2 rpg. Mohammed brings defensive intensity and a big body to clog the paint, something Chicago must love.
1. Drew Gooden, Number of Teams: 10, Career Earnings: $56,502,972
As someone who started loving the NBA in the 2000s, Drew Gooden always seemed to have a place in the NBA. Even with a rat tail under his head band, Gooden always gave teams a hustle player with a mediocre mid-range jumper and decent rebounding.
Gooden was never particularly strong at one thing on the court, but he was loved by his teammates and it’s showing in Washington. Gooden has been an efficient scorer, averaging 6.3 points on 60% shooting. The savvy veteran has provided the Wizards with leadership on the hardwood and shows us why he has found homes all across the league.