Posted on: February 8, 2010 11:13 pm
Apparently, the Magic have acquired Vince Carter. I hadn't noticed -- until Monday night.
Let's not get too carried away with Carter's incredible display against the Hornets -- 48 points, 34 in the second half, and only three shy of his career high. This is not what the Magic had in mind when they pre-empted Hedo Turkoglu's departure by trading for Carter. They expected what they'd gotten for most of the season until now -- a former All-Star who is willing to settle into a secondary role behind Dwight Howard.
But you have to believe it was nice for Stan Van Gundy to witness this unexpected development in the Magic's 123-117 victory over New Orleans. It won't happen often, but when the Magic are slogging their way through the playoffs in a few months, getting sick to death of listening to Van Gundy yell at them about defense with that raspy voice of his, at least they'll know this: Vince Carter is still capable of taking over a game. On occasion, he is still unguardable.
Carter had settled into a mostly pedestrian existence in Orlando, deferring to younger teammates with more bounce in their legs. He hadn't been this good all year, by a lot. He hadn't warranted being a Twitter trending topic since before Twitter was invented.
I can confidently say that 48 points will be his season high; he won't do this again. But the fact that he showed that he can is every bit as important. When the Magic play Cleveland, Boston, Atlanta, or whomever else gets in the way come May and June, their opponent will have to defend Carter as though he will do that again.
That's why Carter will be better for the Magic in the playoffs than Turkoglu would've been. You saw merely a glimpse of his worth Monday night, and a glimpse is all it takes.
Posted on: January 28, 2010 11:22 pm
What did we learn from the Magic-Celtics game Thursday night -- a late-January game with little significance in the standings?
We learned that we want some more Magic-Celtics drama in the playoffs. Here's hoping we get some.
There was Jameer Nelson taking out his All-Star snub on Rajon Rondo early in the game, followed by Rondo proving why he's a first-time All-Star with a steal and key basket late in the fourth. There were J.J. Redick and Paul Pierce exchanging 3-pointers, followed by Rashard Lewis bursting past a limping Kevin Garnett for the go-ahead basket with 1.3 seconds left.
This game had it all, the way an Orlando-Boston playoff series would have it all once again. You had the Magic coming back from a 16-point deficit, then defending the final inbounds play so Rondo couldn't get the ball to Allen or Paul Pierce, but instead got it to Rasheed Wallace, whose buzzer-beating 3-point attempt for the win was off.
You had Garnett, clearly not himself, dragging his bum leg around to the tune of six points on 2-for-8 shooting in 33 minutes, and Vince Carter continuing to struggle in his role with 2-for-13 shooting and six points.
My instinct at this early point in the journey? The Magic can and will survive Carter's inconsistency because they're so deep and versatile. Stan Van Gundy has more lineups than Craig Sager has suits. The Celtics are a different story. They're a team built on defense first, and Garnett isn't close to being right. The Magic can get by with Carter having an off shooting night, and they can get by if they jack a few too many threes. They can get by with Jason Williams running the point and with Dwight Howard missing free throws.
The Celtics can't get by without a healthy, impactful Garnett. There would be nothing better than Garnett getting back to some semblance of himself, because the Celtics and Magic in a seven-game playoff series in May would be just about as good as it gets.
They meet again a week from Sunday in Boston, their final head-to-head matchup of the regular season. These two teams can't play each other enough, as far as I'm concerned.
Posted on: June 25, 2009 6:50 pm
Edited on: June 26, 2009 7:10 am
NEW YORK -- Last summer, the Nets were politely rebuffing inquiries about Vince Carter, not ready yet to part with their highest-paid and most impactful player as part of their plan to attract major free agents in 2010.
That plan intersected with the opportunity to move Carter and the $35 million left on his contract Thursday, when New Jersey sent Carter to the defending Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic.
It was the final blow to the core of Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson, and Carter, who led the Nets through some of the best seasons in franchise history. It also made New Jersey a major factor in the 2010 free-agent sweepstakes and signaled to their fans in New Jersey that they're packing it in for the move to Brooklyn. The Nets also had talks with the Spurs and Cavs about Carter.
The Nets cleared more hurdles this week in making their dream of moving to Brooklyn by 2012 a reality. And by moving Carter, they put themselves $17 million in 2010 cap space closer to putting a marquee star -- or two -- in that new playpen.
The Magic? To me, the trade signals that Orlando GM Otis Smith doesn't believe he can keep Hedo Turkoglu, who will be an unrestricted free agent in a couple of weeks. Carter will join a healthy Jameer Nelson in the backcourt, but he's similar to Turkoglu from the standpoint of ball-dominance and big shot-making -- two ingredients that the Magic would've sorely missed had they not hedged their bets by replacing them.
Orlando sent Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, and Tony Battie to the Nets for Carter and Ryan Anderson. Battie and Alston have contracts that expire after next season, while Lee and Anderson are a wash. So the Nets save $17.3 million from Carter's contract in 2010 and have only three players guaranteed money that season -- Josh Boone, Eduardo Najera, and Keyon Dooling. (They hold team options on Lee, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez, and Sean Williams.)
The Cavs, Spurs, and Magic have struck so far with a win-next-season-at-all-costs strategy. Who's next?
Posted on: February 14, 2009 11:43 pm
PHOENIX -- I am dizzy from these trade rumors.
It gets more and more ridiculous by the hour.
There have been two seemingly reputable reports in recent days that Vince Carter was on his way to Dallas or San Antonio. A person familiar with the Nets' situation told me that New Jersey did have inquiries from about a half-dozen teams and serious conversations with one. It was neither Dallas nor San Antonio.
The Cavs were supposedly hot for Amare Stoudemire, but someone with direct knowledge of the Suns' situation said there were no serious talks. Now the Cavs are after Marcus Camby. The only problem is, a team executive who is actively involved in trade discussions with numerous teams said the one thing you can bank on is that the Clippers aren't trading Camby.
Brace yourself for more rumors than you can shake a stick at over the next few days.
The teams that actually are the most active in trade discussions are the ones nobody's talking about. They are the teams flush with draft picks. Oklahoma City has five No. 1 picks in the next two drafts. They are being flooded with calls. Denver has a first-round pick from Charlotte that is top-12 protected in 2010 and unprotected in '14. It is an extremely valuable chip that any team clearing cap room for the free-agent class that year is trying to acquire. It means that after you spend all your money on one or two max free agents, you'll have a potential lottery pick to add cheap, hopefully talented labor. The Jazz and Nets each have extra unprotected first-round picks in 2010.
As I mentioned, brace yourself.
Posted on: February 13, 2009 11:44 am
Edited on: February 13, 2009 9:22 pm
PHOENIX -- Ready to get the All-Star coverage going. Nope, not much going on. Just reports that Bulls G.M. John Paxson will resign after the trade deadline and that Suns president Steve Kerr may replace Terry Porter as coach.
If the reports are accurate, too little, too late on both counts.
Anyway, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is shooting down the Paxson report in the New York Post, calling it "not credible." The Post also had the item on Kerr.
Just wondering: If your G.M. is resigning, wouldn't you want him to resign before the trade deadline, so he doesn't make any more bad trades?
We'll be following up on these and other issues throughout the day. There's also the trade rumor of the day -- the Nets and Mavericks discussing a deal that would reunite Jason Kidd with Vince Carter. Interesting. Will let you know about that one.
UPDATE: I can confirm with my own eyes that Paxson is still on the job, having seen him walking around a downtown hotel where NBA business is being conducted. He politely declined to discuss his job status. More on that as it unfolds.
As for the Mavs-Nets situation, "nothing going on right now" on that front, a person with knowledge of the talks said.
Posted on: January 16, 2009 10:24 am
Edited on: January 16, 2009 4:29 pm
You may have heard about an airplane that crash-landed in the Hudson River Thursday. Thanks to the US Airways pilot and the heroism of rescuers, all 155 people on board survived. The Nets' Vince Carter saw it all unfold from his high-rise apartment in Weehawken, N.J.
From the Newark Star-Ledger's Dave D'Alessandro (link courtesy of TrueHoop):
"I was just sitting there, looking out the window -- dead even where the plane hit," Carter said before tipoff against the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday night. "... I was just sitting in the bedroom, and ... I thought I was watching TV. It landed like it was a movie. It hit like nose first, and you could (hear) the impact. Couldn't believe it. Just couldn't believe it."
UPDATE: The Nets have invited the pilot who guided the plane into the water, Chesley B. Sullenberger III, and his co-pilot to the Nets-Celtics game Saturday at the Meadowlands, where they will be honored as heroes. "We would be thrilled to have them attend the game as our guests so they can receive the recognition they deserve," Nets spokesman Barry Baum said.
Posted on: December 20, 2008 7:59 pm
Intriguing. Juicy, even. Big name, prominent team, a potentially blockbuster trade. Alas, it's just another rumor.
I spoke Saturday with an executive-level source who has knowledge of both teams' activities, and he reported that the Cavs and Nets have not discussed a Carter swap in any form. In fact, the Nets and Cavs haven't discussed any type of trade in a month and a half.
Numerous teams around the league will be calling Cleveland between now and the Feb. 19 trade deadline, so be prepared for more rumors -- both substantiated and unsubstantiated -- to fly. The reason is the Cavs have two players they need to make decisions on -- Wally Szczerbiak, whose $13 million expiring contract is a valuable chip, and Anderson Varejao, who has a player option for 2009-10.
Posted on: December 12, 2008 11:01 pm
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There are plenty of reasons not to venture out to a Nets game on a Friday night. Traffic, for one. A half-empty basketball arena, for another.
You could be as unlucky as the passengers on the Toronto Raptors' second bus from their Jersey City hotel and get into a minor scrape with another vehicle. This is what happened to the bus carrying Chris Bosh, Jermaine O'Neal, and several members of the Raptors' coaching and front office staff. Trying to navigate the narrow city streets, the driver of the aforementioned bus learned that buses don't fit on the narrow streets of Jersey City, especially when they are attempting to turn a corner. After one such unsuccessful maneuver, the bus crashed into a car behind it while backing up to make room. This resulted in Bosh and O'Neal arriving about an hour before tipoff.
This was nothing compared to the night Vince Carter had. While Bosh and O'Neal spent much of the fourth quarter on the bench enjoying what amounted to a 101-79 victory, Carter sat and stewed about the worst shooting performance of his 11-year career.
Carter was 0-for-13 from the field Friday night, scoring his only three points at the foul line. It was the first time he'd played at least 10 minutes without a field goal. He had two 0-for-3 shooting games while with the Raptors in 2001 and '02, but left those games in the first quarter with injuries.
"He's a scorer," Bosh said. "When you do something like that, that's a credit to the defense. He's very talented, and he's hard to stop. We tried to limit his points in the paint. We tried to put a body on him at all times. We tried to make him get through different layers of defense instead of just getting past one guy and then laying it up. We didn't want to do that. We wanted to make him beat one guy and then meet somebody else, and then probably somebody else after that."
Carter met three such people midway through the third, but they were seated in the stands behind the basket. Lunging for a loose ball, Carter landed awkwardly on two people in the first row. He had fallen, and he couldn't get up. A guy in the second row jumped up and helped him to his feet. "Thanks, baby," Carter said as he ran back on defense.
That was all the help he got on this night, and all he had to say, too. Carter, who typically answers postgame questions in the interview room, left the building before stopping by to chat.
Wasn't much to talk about.
The Raptors, now 2-3 under interim coach Jay Triano, put forth their best defensive effort of the season in holding the Nets to 31 percent shooting from the field. They got outrebounded 50-37, but are beginning to show signs of defending the basket and pushing the ball in transition, two critical areas Sam Mitchell wasn't able to extract from his underachieving team.
Next time in New Jersey, though, the Raptors will want to find a new hotel. Not to mention a new bus driver.