Vince Carter spent the first six years of his NBA career with the Toronto Raptors before requesting a trade and getting dealt to the New Jersey Nets in 2004-05. A lot has changed in the nine years since then, but is it possible the eight-time All-Star’s ugly exit could culminate with an offseason reunion?
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the answer to that question may be yes.
"Word is that the Raptors have been kicking around the idea of making a free-agent play this summer to try to bring Vince Carter 'home' by trying to sign the former face of the franchise away from the Mavericks," he wrote.
The 37-year-old veteran is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, which should bring a variety of suitors.
Carter reinvented himself in Dallas as a vocal leader and above-average role player. His sharpshooting from three-point range (39.4 percent in 2013-14) has proven to be a valuable asset for head coach Rick Carlisle. He no longer has the sheer athletic ability he had as a youngster, but his contributions have been clutch.
Toronto is reportedly interested in bringing "Vinsanity" back to Canada, but is there mutual interest?
"Be advised that Carter has been very happy in Dallas these past three seasons. Very happy," Stein wrote. "He's emerged as the emotional leader of Dirk Nowitzki's team at this late stage of his career and, by all accounts, wants to re-sign with Dallas."
The former North Carolina standout averaged 12.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists while shooting a scorching-hot 48.4 percent from downtown during the Mavs' first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs. He certainly proved his worth to the franchise, but Dallas may ultimately want to get younger moving forward.
While the Raptors organization appears to be mulling the option of bringing V.C. back, the fanbase might not be as receptive. His unpleasant departure from Toronto left a sour taste in the mouths of fans.
Frank Falco of The Canadian Agora Cosmopolitan, for instance, wrote the following back in 2012:
Being Canadians, we tend to forgive but I don't see us ever forgiving Vince Carter. ... Accepting Vince Carter back would be negative for the Toronto Raptors. It would show current and future players that you can start your career with the Raps, leave any way you choose and come back to open arms. We need to put our foot down, that if you treat us like a leaning post, we will not be there for you in the future.
Stein addressed the idea that fans wouldn't be hospitable to Carter in a possible return but refuted it with the following:
I ain't buyin' it. I've never bought that. Trying to sign him now, as a veteran sage on a young team, is precisely the sort of splash we know new Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president Tim Leiweke loves to make.
Makes too much sense for the Raps not to explore it.
A young, upstart team like the Raptors could certainly use veteran leadership. Carter has played more than 2,500 postseason minutes in his illustrious career, so his experience as a tested old-timer would be a logical fit from that outlook.
The No. 1 priority for general manager Masai Ujiri this offseason will be re-signing point guard Kyle Lowry. After that falls into place, don't be surprised if the GM makes moves to improve the team's overall depth.
Carter, at least in the short term, could bring an interesting dynamic to a team on the rise.