NBA Rumor: Vince Carter Free Agency

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Atlanta Hawks swingman Vince Carter was a guest on rapper T.I.’s podcast recently. During the interview, VC spoke about why he has never been interested in “ring chasing.” Carter, who is retiring from the NBA after the 2019-20 season, said he never wanted to sell his soul just for a championship ring (h/t Timothy Rapp of Bleacher Report): “I’m not gonna quote-unquote sell my soul to get [a ring]. What I mean by that is, I feel like at this age—being 43 on the court and still being able to compete and play and do what I can do on the court. … My thing is that if I go to another team out there that’s primed and ready to win a championship, it’s not guaranteed that I’m going to play, play a lot,” the Hawks veteran said. “And I can’t handle that, brother. I love the game too much to just sit there and use my voice but can’t use my skill on the court.”

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Vince Carter is one of the best Toronto Raptors of all time. The legend has played 21 successful seasons in the league and is currently a free agent. Carter spoke on the possibility of returning to where his career started and bringing his legacy full circle: “It would be a cool situation,” Carter said. “It’s all about if the situation works, if that’s something Toronto wants to do — obviously, the fans kinda want that to happen — but it has to be something the organization wants and feels they need my services.”

Rachel Nichols: What’s it like for @MrVinceCarter15 to go through free agency this summer? On #TheJump today he told us that he’s waiting for Kawhi like the rest of us, but here’s what he knows for sure – he wants to go somewhere he can still play decent minutes.

Carter told Fox Sports Southeast that he is still ready to play in the 2019-20 NBA season. He also added that he is remaining hopeful that a team will express interest in his service next season. “It’s something that I want to do,” Carter said of playing one more season. “I could still give it another year, and hopefully there’s a team out there that wants my service. I’m going to prepare as if I am coming back, and we’ll go from there. I do want to play another year.”

Vince Carter to play another season

Vince Carter: I plan on coming back next season. I plan on coming back one more season. I’m almost 90 percent sure that’s it after next season. … You kind of go through the season, especially when the end is near and you say, ‘Hey, how do I feel?’ The summertime kind of dictates it all. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the most important time for the older guys in the league like myself and [Dallas Mavericks star] Dirk [Nowitzki] and I think all the other guys, I could say [San Antonio Spurs forward] Pau [Gasol], then could say that preparing for the season in the summer is probably the hardest thing to do when you’re approaching the last years. I always said I’ll walk away from the game when I’m not willing to put the work in to be prepared for the season. I wouldn’t disrespect the game like that.

Vince Carter: Is Sacramento a possibility? Or how am I looking at free agency. I don’t know. I stay in my lane. I know how it will work and I know teams are going to do what they do, go through the draft, make their trades and cuts and whatnot. Then it’s my time. I just have to wait. I get it. You know what I’m saying? So, I just have to be patient. I have to make sure that I’m prepared to go. And then go from there. It’s just all about timing and what’s the right decision or what makes sense. I’m sure there will be a lot of teams that’ll make moves and have spots available and are going to need something from a guy. Hopefully that I can bring to the table. Yeah, I’ll be ready.

Carter, who is 41 and plans to play another season, whether with the Kings or elsewhere, continues to improvise, sketching out his legacy on the fly, if not necessarily in the air. In the closing weeks of his 24th season, he is committed to passing along his most valuable lessons to his young teammates, not the least of which is cautioning De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason III against unnecessarily “reckless” drives to the basket that threaten to shorten their careers.

What makes Vince run? That $8 million salary ranks right up there, undoubtedly. But so does his unwavering passion for the game, the familiar comforts and challenges of the locker room, and the simple reality that he has plans, perhaps as an NBA owner, yet none that he is fully prepared to pursue. “I’m not going to sit here and deny that I want to play more,” said Carter, who is averaging 17.7 minutes. “Things changed. We aren’t winning and the younger guys need to get better. I get that, but at the same time, I try to make the best of it. That way if it doesn’t work out here, I can still play on another team, maybe a contending team, in a lesser role.”

Michael Grange on Vince Carter possibility returning to Toronto: “I wrote the other day that Vince Carter is someone who they’ve discussed internally and I think that’s cool for a number of reasons. But if you look at Vince’s numbers, as long as he has three days off [between games], he’s really good… Bringing back Vince could be something that happens next year just as more of a ceremonial thing, where they sign him to a one-day contract and he retires in a Raptors jersey. I think that’s more likely what ends up happening.”

ESPN’s Rachel Nichols asked Carter if he would be willing to take less money to be part of an organization like the Warriors. Here is what Carter said: I’m open for it. I want to win. I want to play. Somewhat what Kevin Durant did, I want to do for my team. I want to go out there and play and provide and show that I can still play this game. It’s a lot going into it. I’m just one to just go to a team and ride the coat tail. You could say how old I am or whatever but I’ve proved I can still play in this league. I don’t want to go sit on the bench.

Carter will be a free agent this summer. “I said to myself ‘I want to play 15 years’. I don’t know where I got that from. And the I got to 15 years and I kept going. I never capped it, but at the same time I’ve had a lot of players remind me of things I’ve said,” said Carter about how he kept telling fellow players he would retire after two more years. “I’m still saying ‘two more years and I’m done.’

Vince Carter not retiring

Playing 20 seasons became the goal once he blasted through his initial goal of 15 after being drafted fifth overall in 1998, but he’s not necessarily looking to stop on a number that only five other NBA players have reached. “It scares me. I cannot put myself on the other side of the fence. I can’t put me out of the NBA yet,” Carter told The Vertical. “We’re just going to go for it, until the doors close and there are no more opportunities. That’s kind of where I am. If 21 [seasons] were available, the old guy will still be around.”

“I’m still standing. I’m still competing, playing at this level, doing what I need to do to still be here. I still have a burning desire to compete and be around,” Carter told The Vertical. “I don’t expect anything. I’m going to work for it, like I’ve done my entire career. I’m going to prove that I deserve to play the minutes that I’m playing. I’m going to prove to you that I deserve to still be in this league. That’s kind of been my drive. Humbling myself and staying hungry for the opportunity to still be around. That’s what it is. I don’t come in like, ‘You know what I’ve done? I deserve to be here.’ Nah, I don’t see it that way.”

“That’s what you’re here for. That was the goal, Day One. One day I’m going to get that chance. I still say that today. One day, I’m going to get that chance. I think it’s just all about opportunity. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen – whether I’m here next year, or somewhere else that’s a contender. I’m not saying, ‘OK, I need to be here for it to happen.’ Because it’s not guaranteed anywhere,” Carter told The Vertical. “Your life has already been planned out the way it’s supposed to go and we’re just putting the pieces together that have been put together. So yes, that is the ultimate goal. I would love to hold up that trophy. I would love to be in that situation. Not at the expense of … and I could fill in the blanks with a lot of things. I won’t sell my soul. Wherever that is, or with whoever it is, I will be prepared to do whatever it takes to help that team.”
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