I mean honestly who else did you think was going to do this? When Wil originally pitched the idea that I'd cover Vince Carter for our player evaluation series, I leapt at the opportunity. OK I'm kidding, I basically ignored his emails until Keify and Euty asked me on twitter - THEN I leapt (and basically only because I was drunk at the time).
Enough about my vanity, on to the half-man himself.
In the wake of their NBA Finals berth, the Magic who had lost Hedo Turkoglu to free agency decided to acquire Vince Carter from Jersey. In his only full season with Orlando Carter's numbers (including minutes) dropped across the board while the Magic were knocked out in the Eastern Conference Finals with Carter missing late crucial free throws in a Game 2 loss.
22 games into the 2010-2011 season with the Magic looking to shake things up and the Suns looking to escape from the idiotic albatross of Hedo Turkoglu's contract, the two franchies struck a deal. Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Earl Clark were sent to Orlando while Marcin Gorat, Mickael Pietrus, and Carter came to Phoenix. Though there were bearded smiles at the press conference and a small sect of people who held out hope for a Carter resurgence it was relatively clear to the world that the trade was done for the Suns to ditch the Turk and bring in Gorat. But Vince was here anyway.
With the Suns top scorer off to Orlando and shooting guard options at a minimum a starting role was turned over to a guy most considered a short term rental at best.
Through his career Carter gained a bit of a reputation as a player who just didn't really give a crap. Fortunately for those with a healthy belief in reputations he lived up to the billing. The combination of showing up with an already balky knee and being thrust into a major role on a noncontender probably didn't do Carter's situation any favors.
Stastically the 34 year old guard wasn't someone that was going to jump off the page as a disaster. In 51 games with the Suns he gave the team the following:
- 27.2 minutes, 13.5 points, 42.2% shooting, 36.6% 3 point shooting, 3.6 rebounds per game
I mean, not too shabby. It also probably warrants mentioning that the Suns were 13-16 at the time of Carter's December 29th debut against Philadelphia then 27-26 the rest of the way (25-26 with Carter in the lineup who missed two wins). What does that mean? Well basically that the Suns were a below average team before Carter and just about the same level after.
I believe this is probably the reason that some of the posters on BSotS believe that I and some of the others are a little too hard on Vince. My response to that?
It's obvious Carter wasn't the reason the Suns missed the playoffs and he wasn't the reason they didn't duplicate their success of 2009-2010. The Suns problems went well beyond the failures of one man. To me Carter represented something that couldn't quite be summed up in statistics.
Blame the knee all you want but Carter was a player who played by constantly half trotting up and down the court. Beyond that I sometimes wondered whether he was actually permitted by NBA rules to enter any area below the free throw line on either side of the floor. For lack of a better description - dude was just lazy as hell.
When he caught the ball you could almost guarantee that it was going to go careening towards the basket and it didn't matter who or even how many people were covering him. If the Suns didn't immediately start going to him right when the game began he would become more invisible than NBA basketball during the fall of 2011 (it's true).
It was that general constant coasting and perpetual malaise that made me despise the guy and found the Coalition to Light Vince Carter on Fire (CTLVCOF). Whenever you have to spend time in multiple BSotS threads getting all theoretical about why a player should care about his job when he's already rich and has a great life, then you know that player isn't going along so well.
Even when Vince was playing well (it happened like 5 times and primarily against Oklahoma City) I couldn't stand to watch him play. Our resident VC fan Raptorel discussed on numerous occasions how he appreciated the artistic merits of Carter's abilities - yet to me he represented one of the worst eras of NBA basketball. In the post Jordan era you had a slew of stars whose main ability was to get their man isolated on the wing and basically just hang out there with a series of fakes and jabs until they decided to either pull up for a contested jumper or drive to the basket. I literally cannot stand watching that type of basketball.
Call me a spoiled brat who's grown up watching the Suns play with great point guards but the idea of kicking to a shooting guard and watching him dick around for 16 seconds makes me wish the NFL had a 12 month season.
I couldn't stand to watch him play. I'll probably never be able to stand to watch him play. If you want to just look on paper then fine he wasn't a bad guy but when you're at every home game like myself he brings a level of effort and enthusiasm that makes me wonder why I ever bothered to invest money and time into a basketball team.
But here's the thing, the real fact of the matter is as my dear friend East Bay Ray said 2 weeks ago, we didn't want Vince and Vince didn't want us. It was a 2/3rd season marriage of convenience to make contracts work for everyone. I couldn't stand to watch him just as much as he probably couldn't stand to play here.
I realize I didn't get into the deep statistical analysis that has been present for some of the player evaluations on this site so feel free to represent Carter's time here however you'd like.
Carter's contract calls for $18 million dollars next year (catch your breath) but as most of us know he has a team option on that contract that permits the Suns to buy him out for $4 million dollars. If the Suns don't buy Vince out then I will open mouth kiss Keify (again). Suffice it to say, it's a given they'll buy him out.
I suppose the concept that terrifies me is the Suns signing Carter back at a lower annual number. Now sure you probably just spit out whatever beverage was in your mouth but he's allegedly a great locker room guy. Shudder.
All in all there are low odds that Vince Carter ever wears a Suns uniform again - and for that I'm thankful. Someday we'll all look back on this and say something like "oh my god do you remember when Vince Carter played for the Suns" and then we'll look at each other and softly remark "LOLZ...LOLZ."