Memphis Grizzlies forward Vince Carter announced in no uncertain terms Monday that he plans to continue playing beyond this season, despite fans and even players on opposing teams expecting him to retire, per Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal.
"Did I say I was retiring? I'm very thankful for (the recognition on the road). Don't get me wrong. But I plan on coming back," Carter told Tillery. "I just go year to year at this point. I don't put a timetable on it. I don't want to say two years and then everybody says 'Well this is it, right?' But 20 years would be cool."
Carter, 39, has been cast in a reserve role for the Grizzlies this season, averaging 4.0 points and 1.6 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game. He's been excellent for stretches coming off the bench for Memphis, however, and has scored 13 points in each of his last two contests.
Those flashes of play are a reminder that Carter was the Rookie of the Year in the 1998-99 season, an eight-time All-Star and was one of the most exciting players in the NBA during his prime.
His role is much different these days, of course, though nonetheless a valuable one for Memphis.
"His experience and playing with Jeff (Green) and Matt (Barnes) is a unique look for us," head coach Dave Joerger told Tillery. "They're kind of all the same, but they have different skills. They cover for each other really well. It's something I'm really comfortable with. They're all high-IQ guys and they make the game easier for each other."
The question for Carter will be whether he continues his career with the Grizzlies or elsewhere. Next year is the final year of a three-year, $12.2 million contract that includes a $2 million buyout for the Grizzlies. While Carter provides valuable experience and is still dangerous from beyond the arc, that buyout option—and adding some money to get a younger role player who could play an expanded role—may be the most prudent option.
Regardless, expect to see Carter in the 2016-17 season.