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Jonathan Bender - SF/PF, 7'0, 230
Retired - Retired again after 2010 season
       Date of birth: 01/30/1981
       Country: USA
     Drafted (NBA): 5th pick, 1999
     Out of: Picayune High School
  NBA Experience: 8 years
  Hand: Right

1999 NBA Draft NBA Drafted 5th overall by Toronto.
1st August, 1999 NBA Draft rights traded by Toronto to Indiana in exchange for Antonio Davis.
5th August, 1999 NBA Signed four year, $11,368,785 rookie scale contract with Indiana. Included team option for 2002/03.
5th October, 2001 NBA Indiana exercised 2002/03 team option.
31st October, 2002 NBA Signed a four year, $27.2 million extension with Indiana.
14th June, 2006 NBA Waived by Indiana.
13th December, 2009 NBA Signed an unguaranteed minimum salary contract for the remainder of the season with New York.
When: Where:
August 1999 - June 2006 Indiana Pacers (NBA)
December 2009 - June 2010 New York Knicks (NBA)
From blog:

   Top 101 NBA Ten-Day Contract Candidates (When 20 Would Probably Have Been Enough)

Jonathan Bender - Bender's comeback last season was a nice story with an anti-climactic ending. A bench player for an underwhelming Knicks team, Bender went unsigned in free agency and has not caught on anywhere since. In the court time he managed, Bender showed some skills on both ends of the court, albeit without any of the athleticism that made him such a coveted asset before the injuries. He was, to coin a phrase, all right. But an extended comeback has not been forthcoming, and it's unclear as to whether he even wants one.

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   The best of what's left

Jonathan Bender - Last season, Bender came out of retirement at the ripe old age of 28 to play for the Knicks. Bender was always good, but retired because he ran out of bone cartilege; after a few years of letting the pain subside, Bender came back to see if he still had anything to give. He was OK, putting up a PER of 10.8 in 25 games, not helped by a broken finger. Bender's lost the athleticism of his youth, but he's a skilled face-up 7 footer who can shoot and drive the ball. He's always been an incredibly disinterested rebounder, and he turns it over quite a lot (perhaps in part due to the lack of court time), yet Bender can still block shots, even now he can't jump as much. He's a permanent injury risk, but he's still intriguing.

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   Bookkeeping The Retired Guys, 2013 Edition

Jonathan Bender - Back in retirement after finally going on on his own terms, Bender's website states that Bender, ever the entrepreneur, has now started a coaching program, and also invented fitness equipment.

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   Knicks sign Jonathan Bender.....wait, what?

Bender retired in February 2006 after being assumed to have been retired for a long while prior. He had begun to break out in the 2001-02 season when he averaged 7.4 points in 78 games for the Pacers, but not only was that the best he'd ever play, it was almost the most he'd ever play. Bender's games played total plummeted from there on out; from 78 in 2001/02, to 46 in 2002/03, to 21 in 2003/04, to 7 in 2004/05, to only 2 in 2005/06. He suffered from a degenerative knee condition that caused chronic pain due to the destruction of the knee's cartilage, and there was no way back from that, forcing his retirement. There still isn't, really, which is why I wrote this when we last covered Bender back in January:

Jonathan Bender is still retired, and probably always will be.

Apparently that was not true, though. Bender is now back, joining up with the general manager that traded for him and gave him the $28 million with which he built his business empire. The league once again has a 7 foot shooting guard, and not the Primoz Brezec type of 7 foot shooting guard.

In his time away from the game, Bender has become a successful entrepreneur. He owns a charitable organisation - the Jonathan Bender foundation - as well as Jonathan Bender Enterprises, a real estate development and property management company. Both of those organisations are based in New Orleans, helping to restore the city's infrastructure. Bender also owns an Italian wine company, a record label, an island in the Carribean, multiple real estate holdings (including Kingdom Homes, a company that buys and restores flood-damaged properties in disadvantaged New Orleans neighborhoods), and is trying to patent a fitness device called "Bender Bands." As someone of comparable age but completely incomparable success, I am jealous of this.

The last time someone returned from a career ending injury to play in the NBA was last year, with the whole Darius Miles debacle. That saga did not go particularly well - particularly not for Portland - due to all the shenanigans surrounding it. Miles played fairly well in his comeback, which was a plus, but it was all secondary to the drama, and it was not an enviable situation for any of the neutral parties. It finally ended this past summer when the Grizzlies let Miles walk unchallenged, unsatisfied as they were with his performance off the court. (As if to prove them right, Miles then got arrested.)

The last time it happened with the Knicks was with Allan Houston, who made two abortive comebacks in training camps 2007 and 2008 after succumbing to knee injuries in 2005. He never played another NBA game.

However, Bender is only 28 years old. There is no disgrace to be found here. If he can go, he should, and if he can't, then it cost nothing significant to find out.

What the Knicks stand to gain here is not particularly obvious; Bender stands to be the 15th man in an 8 man rotation, and given the aforementioned strength of his non-basketball career, he doesn't appear to need the money. The ignonimity of being on the inactive list alongside Cuttino Mobley doesn't seem like any more of a proud way to go than the original medical retirement, and the risk for the Knicks is that, if he gets hurt again, they're stuck with paying him.

But hey. Why not. Good luck to him.

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Note: Non-US teams that the player has played for are, unless stated otherwise, from the top division in that nation. If a league or division name is expressly stated, it's not the top division. The only exceptions to this are the rare occasions where no one league is said to be above the other, such as with the JBL/BJ League split in Japan.

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