Grading the Deal: Vince Carter Comes Home
Shortly after the Cleveland Cavaliers announced its acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal, the Orlando Magic and New Jersey Nets agreed to a trade that sends the Nets' Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson to the Magic in exchange for Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, and Tony Battie.
The trade brings Orlando even more star power than it already had in Carter, while New Jersey gets financial flexibility along with a proven point guard in Alston, promising young talent in Lee, and a strong presence off the bench in Battie.
For the Eastern Conference champion Magic, the acquisition of the eight-time all-star adds another proven play-maker to its already star-studded lineup, something the team has been striving for.
The Magic has been criticised for its lack of leadership. Carter will bring that leadership to Orlando, sharing the spotlight with Defensive player of the year, Dwight Howard.
"[W]e really didn't have a guy who you could give him the ball up top, on the wing, at the elbow, one-on-one and go get a shot or draw a second defender" said Orlando head coach, Stan Van Gundy.
"We had out of pick-and-rolls or out of post-ups, I think with Vince, you can give him the ball anywhere on the floor and he can isolate and create a shot either for himself or for a teammate on his own.
"Plus, if you look at the numbers like we do all the time and I don't think that he's got enough credit for this, Vince has been throughout his career, one of the best fourth quarter and end-of-game guys in this league, in terms of production. He's been a guy that has always come through down the stretch in games. I think that's huge."
Clutch is huge to Magic, who had its share of amazing finishes all year and through the playoffs.
In the fourth quarter of every game in the regular season, with under five minutes left, with the Nets ahead by five points or trailing by five points, Carter averaged 34.3 points in that stretch, compared to Turkoglu's 26.6. That statistic alone proves Carter's late game heroics are as impressive, or more than Turkoglu's.
At age 32, Carter is still able to score with ease, averaging nearly 21 points per game last season. Carter will flourish in Orlando's signature pick-and-roll offense, something Hedo Turkoglu executed to perfection.
It is a strong possibility that, with the addition of Carter, Turkoglu will be let go the Magic, as he has already opted out of his contract. Carter is undoubtedly the better player, but it is uncertain if he will fit in with Orlando as well as Turkoglu did.
The Magic also lose three more players that were key to its playoff run in Alston, Lee, and Battie. However, trading Alston terminates any chance of point guard controversy, along with solidifies Anthony Johnson's role as backup.
Getting rid of Battie allows the Magic to focus on re-signing Marcin Gortat, who impressed tremendously in this year's postseason.
Losing guard Courtney Lee is a heart breaker for most Magic fans. Lee provided energy and hope for Orlando fans in just his rookie season.
Orlando also adds Ryan Anderson, yet another 6'10" player than can shoot the ball well. The former California big man can also rebound and defend well.
Anderson was high on Orlando's draft board last year, but was picked 21st overall. Orlando had the 22nd pick overall, in which it drafted Courtney Lee.
Orlando's grade: B+
In New Jersey's standpoint, the financial benefits in the long run will be huge. The Nets will save roughly $40 million through the life of the contracts.
The trade seems like a yet another ticket to the lottery for the Nets, however, with the acquisition of Alston and Battie, two expiring contracts, New Jersey will have tons of cap space in 2010.
Courtney Lee seems to be the piece of the puzzle that triggered the trade. Lee is a shooting guard full of potential. The all-rookie team caliber guard showed his worth through the whole postseason, averaging eight points in the playoffs.
Teaming up with all-star Devin Harris and rookie Terrence Williams in the back court, New Jersey has tons of young talent on its squad.
New Jersey's grade: B
Both teams have plenty of work to do in its respective off-seasons. Orlando, not including the free agents, has just eight players of its roster, with plenty of holes waiting to be filled.
Rasheed Wallace and Brandon Bass will be pursued this coming week by the Magic.
New Jersey might have other plans, however, as there are speculations of the team being up for sale with the trading of Carter.
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