The Toronto Raptors Should Target Vince Carter in Free Agency

Ryan McNeillContributor IIMay 18, 2014

Dallas Mavericks guard Vince Carter comes off the court as fans reach out to him  after Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs in Dallas, Saturday, April 26, 2014. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
LM Otero/Associated Press

The Toronto Raptors should target Vince Carter this summer in free agency.

Yes, the same Vince Carter who broke hearts across Canada during the 2004-05 season when he pouted his way out of Toronto.

Or, at least that’s the message that was wrongly sent to basketball fans when then-Toronto Raptors general manager Rob Babcock made a mess out of dealing the best player to ever play for the franchise.

This season, Michael Grange wrote a fantastic article for Sportsnet called “Why It’s Time To Forgive Vince Carter.” The article—and the subsequent mini-documentary Sportsnet ran—painted a different picture of Carter and the fractured relationship between Air Canada and the Raptors front office.

According to Grange, Carter pleaded with Sam Mitchell and the front office to keep him in Toronto. His pleas fell on deaf ears, and within days, he was traded to the New Jersey Nets.

Over the past two seasons, I’ve had the chance to chat with Carter, and it’s clear he regrets how he left Toronto, and he loves the impact he’s had on young basketball players across Canada.

Carter also appears willing to return to Toronto to make amends with diehard fans who need a way to mend their broken hearts.

So, besides building good sentiment among disgruntled fans, why is Carter a good fit for Toronto? Because he showed this year in the NBA playoffs that he still has some gas left in the tank, and he has proven over the past two seasons that he is a fantastic mentor to some of the younger players on the Dallas Mavericks.

Right now, Toronto needs another wing scorer and a veteran leader. Those two reasons alone make adding Carter a win-win for the franchise.

When you throw into the mix that his number needs to be hanging from the rafters of the Air Canada Centre after he retires, it just give extra motivation for Masai Ujiri to figure out a way to sign Carter this summer.