Vince Carter wanted to play one more season in his lengthy NBA career, and now, his wish has been granted.
Carter will return to the Atlanta Hawks in what will be his 22nd NBA season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Once he takes the floor this season, he will become the first player in league history to have played in 22 different seasons, and should he stay healthy into 2020, will become the first player in league history to play in four separate decades, but the expectation, according to both Wojnarowski and Carter's own words, is that he will retire after the 2019-20 campaign as one of the longest-tenured players ever.
At 42-years-old, he is the oldest player on an NBA roster currently, and now that Dirk Nowitzki has retired, he has a three-year lead over the rest of the field. Atlanta's franchise player, Trae Young, was born after Carter was drafted. That is part of what makes Carter so appealing to the Hawks.
Their core is built around a 19-year-old in Cam Reddish, two 20-year-olds in Young and Kevin Huerter, and two 21-year-olds in DeAndre Hunter and John Collins. Carter has developed a reputation in recent years as an excellent role model for young players, and Atlanta saw what kind of mentorship he can provide firsthand last season.
Of course, that isn't to suggest that Carter can no longer play. He has developed a lethal three-point shot since his athleticism began to fade, making 38.9 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc last season. He has lost some mobility defensively, but he has made up for it by adding strength in a league that is downsizing. Carter began his career as a shooting guard, but split his minutes between both forward spots last season. He is by no means an elite defender, but he can hold his own down low and always knows where to be.
Carter played only 17.5 minutes per game last season, a number that is likely to decrease this season as Atlanta has added more young talent that needs to see the floor. But he will still serve a valuable role on a Hawks team with a very bright future. Carter wanted one last season in the NBA. He's getting it now with a team that he is very familiar with.