Vince Carter Comments on Possibility of Retirement After Loss vs. Spurs

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2016

April 12, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Vince Carter (15) moves to the basket against Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly two weeks after saying goodbye to Kobe Bryant, another future Hall of Fame guard was asked if he'd be stepping away from the game. Vince Carter said he's here to stay.    

"I feel good. My body feels good. I still hate losing. I plan to be back," Carter said after his Memphis Grizzlies' 116-95 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, per Chris Herrington of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Carter, 39, has one year remaining on his contract with the Grizzlies. He averaged 6.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in 2015-16.

It's been a struggle during Carter's first two years in Memphis. After never scoring less than 10.1 points per game in a season, Carter's averaged a combined 12.4 over the last two. He's also shot less than 40 percent from the field each of the last two years, the first time he's ever done so poorly.

While he's still not been nearly the difference-maker he was coming off the bench in Dallas, Carter made marked improvements in his second season with the Grizzlies. He upped his shooting percentage by 5.5 points, returned to near-league-average shooting from three-point range and became a vocal leader in the locker room.  

"I'm not trying to be the coach, be the voice," Carter told NBA.com's David Aldridge in March. "I'm just trying to make the game easier. As a player, you hear what the coaches say, but sometimes, when another teammate delivers it, it's a little different. It makes sense, or hits home."

If Carter wants to go out as a winner, though, Memphis might not be the place to do it. The Grizzlies' "grit and grind" era appears to be at the end of its rope. They finished 42-40 this season and were just waxed by San Antonio in the first round. While injury issues (particularly to Marc Gasol) played a part, this is a rapidly aging team that's still never finished better than fourth in the Western Conference.

With Mike Conley becoming a free agent this summer, it's possible a foundational piece of an already-shaky offense finds himself elsewhere in 2016-17.

Memphis may wind up as a bottom-tier playoff team again next season, but it feels like it's running on a hamster wheel of first-round exits. The top four of the Western Conference is a hierarchy of its own, and that isn't changing unless Kevin Durant leaves the Oklahoma City Thunder.

For now, though, it appears we'll get at least one more year of Vinsanity. That's something we should all be thankful for. 

 

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