Vince Carter recently said he thought he'd "earned the right to stick around" the Dallas Mavericks, according to The Dallas Morning News' Eddie Sefko. Now Sefko is reporting that the organization sees things the same way, citing president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson's full confidence in the 37-year-old veteran:
The feeling is absolutely mutual. When you've got that kind of veteran leadership, we're a better team. It's better for the younger guys. Those are the kind of guys you want in that locker room carrying that baton and eventually passing it along.
Nelson went on to explain that Carter has successfully diversified his game over time, expanding his repertoire beyond a litany of highlight-worthy dunks and drives. Now the Mavericks' sixth man, Carter is making the right passes and making 39 percent of his three-point attempts.
But as ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon points out, there's no guarantee the wheels won't fall off at some point in the not-too-distant future:
The question is how much longer Carter, who is 42 points shy of passing Elgin Baylor for 26th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, can continue to be productive. He will join Michael Jordan, Grant Hill, Reggie Miller and Dominique Wilkins as the only wing players to ever average at least 12 points per game in a season at age 37 or older.
To hear Nelson's point of view, the Mavericks seem confident Carter can remain an important contributor for at least another season or two. He currently ranks among the league's best sixth men, averaging 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
That's pretty solid value for a guy who's making just under $3.2 million in the third year of the pact he signed with Dallas back in 2011. The good news is Carter's interested enough in a return that he probably won't demand much of a raise.
According to Sefko, Carter feels right at home: "Now I know my role, and I know the system, it’s second nature to me now. I know the city very well. I’m stepping out, going to SMU games and getting out and about. I’m very comfortable here."
Suffice it to say, the Mavs feel comfortable committing to him even in an offseason in which there will be a premium on cap space. With franchise centerpiece Dirk Nowitzki primed to take a huge pay cut, Dallas will be in full-on recruiting mode this summer, looking to add a big-named free agent to return the franchise to the NBA Finals.
At least it knows there's one free agent it won't have to spend too much time recruiting.