Grizzlies, Vince Carter Both Win Big with 3-Year Contract for Former Supertar

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2014

DALLAS, TX - APRIL 12:  Vince Carter #25 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts after scoring against the Phoenix Suns at American Airlines Center on April 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

There was little splash or fanfare. And there didn't need to be.

The Memphis Grizzlies' acquisition of Vince Carter already ranks as one of the summer's savviest moves, both in terms of fit and pricing alike.

Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that, "Carter has agreed to a three-year, $12 million contract with the Memphis Grizzlies, league sources told Yahoo Sports."

Per's Marc Stein, "The Mavericks were hoping to keep Carter but didn't have the financial flexibility to pay him the sort of money Memphis offered after extending a three-year, $46 million offer sheet to Houston Rockets restricted free agent Chandler Parsons."

With wing players like Parsons and Gordon Hayward—whose four-year, $63 million offer from the Charlotte Hornets was matched by the Utah Jazz on Saturday—going for big money, finding someone of Carter's caliber for a friendly $4 million annually is a borderline steal.

Yes, he's way past his high-flying prime, but even in a reduced role, he's still easily worth those dollars.

The 37-year-old averaged 11.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists last season in Dallas, his third with the club after arriving in 2011. Carter also made 39.4 percent of his three-point attempts on the season, only slightly down from the 40.6 percent mark he set the season before.

His most memorable moment came recently enough when he nailed a buzzer-beating three-point game-winner in Game 3 of the club's first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs.

A few timely shots and admirable bench contributions surely fall short of his once prolific production, but then again, the Grizzlies didn't pay superstar money for Carter. They paid for a role player, and that's exactly what they'll get.

It just so happens that this role player meets a very real need for Memphis.

The 2013-14 iteration of these Grizzlies did an admirable job of pushing the Oklahoma City Thunder to a seventh game in the first round of the playoffs, but something was undoubtedly missing all season long. This team ranked 27th league wide in points scored with just 96.1 per contest, and that was in in spite of a 46.4 field-goal percentage than ranked seventh in the league.

Much of that had to do with Memphis ranking dead last in pace.

But it also had something to do with the Grizzlies' utter failure from beyond the three-point arc. 

Their efficiency from beyond that arc (35.3 percent) wasn't terrible. The problem was that Memphis only attempted 14 three-pointers per contest, which again ranked them last in the league.

So the big takeaway from those numbers is that last season's Grizzlies played very slow and didn't take nearly enough three-pointers. They simply didn't have the personnel to do otherwise.

Carter will help change that. He's attempted at least 4.6 three-pointers per game in each of the last two seasons. As his athleticism and in-between game have declined, the perimeter game has become Carter's wheelhouse, and he's still plenty effective from long range.

DALLAS, TX - APRIL 28: Vince Carter #25 of the Dallas Mavericks warms up before Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2014 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas
Glenn James/Getty Images

Just as importantly, Carter has a scorer's mentality. Even if he's no longer equipped to put up at least 20 points per game, he makes the most of his minutes and does so unabashedly. 

The Grizzlies need that kind of aggressiveness.

And on paper, they certainly needed some help on the wing. At the moment, the organization's only other veteran options include Tayshaun Prince and Quincy Pondexter, along with guards Tony Allen and Courtney Lee.

There's probably some hope internally that youngsters like Jamaal Franklin and Jordan Adams pan out, but only time will tell.

In the interim, Memphis needed a sure thing—if not a mentor to help those youth along.

To be sure, the Grizzlies aren't the only winners here. Carter suddenly finds himself on a strong, defensively-minded playoff team that's not all that unlike the Mavericks themselves. That's a good thing given that Carter really wasn't all that eager to leave the Mavs.

According to SportsDay DFW's Eddie Sefko, in March Carter said, "I think I’ve earned the right to stick around."

He added, "I like the guys. I like the nucleus we have here. With my role and the way I play and the way I go about things, it really helps guys here. And they like that. Hopefully, that’s enough so that they can still have trust in me enough to play significant minutes and help the other guys out."

Things won't be entirely the same, of course. But Memphis offers Carter the opportunity to have plenty of playing time alongside a nice mix of young and veteran players—some with whom he can relate to and some he can help mentor.

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 14:  Zach Randolph #50 and Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies stand on the court before the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on April 14, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges a
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

And much like Dallas, Memphis means the chance to upset some contenders in the postseason.

Dallas came within a game of doing so against the San Antonio Spurs. The Grizzlies were right there with OKC. Teams like Dallas and Memphis will remain underdogs in a crowded Western Conference, but they're the kind of underdogs who have quite the bite.

That's thanks in no small part to fearless leaders like Carter and a penchant for clutch greatness.

Only the basketball gods know exactly how much Carter has left in the tank, but if recent history is any indication, there's just enough to make an impact when it matters. 

Without the requisite cap flexibility to chase a more prominent star, Memphis will take what they can get.

It turns out the best they could get isn't half bad.