I know you haven’t decided whether you’re going to play or not next season, but have you ever thought about signing a one-day contract or something like that to close your career in Toronto? Vince Carter: “It’s possible. I try not to think too far ahead. I just deal with the daily grind and go from there, just looking forward and worrying about that stuff now is too soon for me.”
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Carter hasn’t said if he plans to retire following the season. He would make NBA history if he returns, as nobody has played 22 seasons in the league. So was the video premature? “I’m OK with it. Either way it’s cool,” he said with a smile. “I’m very thankful for it, that they even considered it. When it was mentioned to me I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ “
The Nets honored Carter, who is the oldest active player, with a tribute video during their game against Atlanta, a way to say thank you for his 4 + seasons with the franchise. “It was great. Any time you can see old video of when you were young and spry and springy and all of that good stuff, I mean, it’s always great to see,” Carter said.
The Hawks’ road trip has been right down Carter’s memory lane. They played Tuesday in Toronto, where he began his career and has repaired his relationship with fans that was damaged when he pushed for the trade that landed him in New Jersey. “It’s a great trip. Stressful sometimes, a lot of people to see, but the appreciation I’m very thankful for and I’ll never forget it,” Carter said. “And like I said, the video, yes it could be premature, or not. It’s still, they’re thinking about me and I’m very thankful for that.”
Carter hasn’t said if he plans to retire following the season. He would make NBA history if he returns, as nobody has played 22 seasons in the league. So was the video premature? “I’m OK with it. Either way it’s cool,” he said with a smile. “I’m very thankful for it, that they even considered it. “When it was mentioned to me I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.'”
Why keep putting himself through what he called “the long checklist” required to keep him on the floor when he could take the many millons he’s made and go put his tired feet up somewhere? “For some weird reason, I still don’t have an answer for it,” said Carter, who’s averaging roughly 18 minutes per game for the Hawks this season. “I wanted to play 15 years. Some of the greatest played 12 to 14. Taking care of my body has allowed me to play six more years or so. I don’t know when the end is going to happen. After every year, I see how I’m feeling and then go from there. When you go through the season, people keep saying to me, ‘Keep your phone handy, we’re interested.’ It’s hard to say, ‘I’m not going to play anymore.’ I could be 47 before that happens.”
Atlanta, home to Turner Broadcasting and NBA TV, is the right place to be, but Carter isn’t quite ready to announce his retirement. “I know playing this game that the media and the fans and people can be cruel,” he said with a grin. “It’s like, `You’re old and you’re playing against guys half your age. You shouldn’t be out here.’ But then for me that is my goal, to prove that I’m able to do that. And I put in a lot of work in mentally as well as physically just preparing myself.”
Carter says the once-dynamic dunker, a live highlight reel of a player known as “Vinsanity,” still lives inside him. It’s just different now that he’s been a reserve in stops the last six seasons with Dallas, Memphis and Sacramento. “Yeah, I’m still the same person,” said Carter, the 1999 NBA Rookie of the Year and an eight-time All-Star. “My approach is still the same. My work ethic, my ability to play the game is still the same. Obviously it’s limited. You just don’t get to see it as much, but it’s the same guy.”
He’s already worked as a guest analyst for NBA Summer League and high-profile youth games. TNT could be his next step. “I have a fear of when it’s over not being prepared for the next phase,” Carter said. “Now that I’m nearing the end, whenever that is, I want to make sure when that door is closed and I leave my basketball shoes in the gym or where I choose to leave them, I’m ready for the next phase.”
Carter added that he’s ’90-something percent’ sure that he will retire after the 2018-19 season. He averaged 5.4 points per game in a limited role for the Sacramento Kings last season. An eight-time All-Star, Carter will play for his eighth team this year in Atlanta.
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.
Marc J. Spears: “I still say one more year. That is just how I’ve been feeling. It is what it is. One more. I’d like to play one more year. Then, I’d probably just walk away,” @Vince Carter bit.ly/2DAuq4h
Michael Grange: Vince Carter on the possibility of Raptors return: “It’ll happen, I’m sure. Somehow. Whether it’s one day or something. It will happen. It’s supposed to happen, I think.”
It sounds to me like this won’t be your last season. Will it? I go year to year. I’ll wait until after the season to see how I feel. And I swear that every year when the season over, I feel good and say, ‘I can do it again.’ It gets harder and harder throughout the summer to just prepare and get myself where I need to be. But at the same time, the challenge and motivation is still there to do so to fight through that.
While Carter enjoys sharing his knowledge, he hedges at the suggestion he’ll pursue a coaching career. Carter has done well as a television analyst in the offseason and sees himself behind a microphone rather than holding a clipboard. “But never say never,” he said.
On the NBA TV broadcast, Carter said he wants to play during the 2017-18 season and perhaps play in 2018-19. He also reiterated that desire in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “I still think I can play and compete and play at a high level,” Carter said. “So I’m going to go for it.”
Asked specifically if he would consider joining the Magic, he would not rule out the possibility. The Magic need to add depth on the wings, and they would benefit from adding a highly respected veteran who could provide a positive example to their young nucleus. “[Free agency] just started, so I’m just kind of weighing options and seeing what teams have to say,” Carter said.
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.’
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.”
Carter is still standing because he doesn’t want to worry about being anything other than a ball player. He has an idea of his post-basketball career – preferably in broadcasting – but won’t spend much time thinking about it because it would be the first sign that he was already checking out.
That broke a record Carter set six days earlier in a win over the Denver Nuggets. You didn’t think Carter’s days as a productive NBA player were over, did you? “The way he’s still playing, retire for what?” said Zach Randolph, who gave the Grizzlies 18 points and 10 rebounds off the bench against the Jazz. “Give him a two- or three-year deal! That’s what I’d do. S—, better give him some money!”
But Carter has rebounded to be a major asset off the Memphis bench this season. He is putting up 10.4 points per game on 47.7 percent shooting and providing the Grizzlies some savvy playmaking and even a defensive weapon against some of the better wings they’ve faced. “It’s not easy,” Carter said. “It may look easy out there on the court, but it’s not easy. … The game has come easy for me for a long time. When it got a little tougher, I put a little more work in. It’s made me better. Being at this age, still playing at this level is just amazing.”
So as tantalizing and improbable as the possibility seemed of a 40-year-old strolling into the NBA’s biggest weekend and turning back the clock—it ain’t happening. But as long as Vince Cater is still a productive member of the Memphis Grizzlies rotation, he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. “I just worry about the now, play it by ear. At this point, when you’re this old,” Carter laughs, “I just think let’s see how I feel at the end of the year and go from there.”
Asked Sunday by ESPN what keeps bringing him back to the court, the 39-year-old replied: “Love for the game. Nothing else. “I just love to play. It’s not out of me yet. When I don’t want to play and don’t want to put the work in, that’s when I step away from the game, but right now I still love it.”
The legendary dunker, who was taking in the Alcorn State-Bethune Cookman college football game, also shed some light on when he’s thinking about hanging up his sneakers. “Not right now,” Carter said. “We know No. 19 is definitely going to go down. I’m shooting for 20, and we’ll go from there after that.”
Fred Kerber: Vince Carter said he wants to play two more years.
Ronald Tillery: Griz coach Dave Joerger says Vince Carter and Matt Barnes still have a lot to offer
After the Grizzlies’ season-ending Game 4 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, Carter quickly shut down speculation that this might be his last game in the NBA. “I plan on coming back,” Carter said in his postgame press conference per NBA TV. “I feel good. Body feels good.
Vince Carter isn’t ready to walk away from the NBA, he told reporters in a video tweeted by NBA TV. Carter, 39, could be headed toward free agency after his Grizzlies were swept out of the playoffs by the Spurs this afternoon. He is under contract with Memphis for next season and is slated to make $4,264,057, but only $2MM of that is guaranteed. Carter averaged 6.6 points per night this year in 60 games with the Grizzlies, all but three of them as a reserve. “When I don’t feel like training or lose the passion and love for the game, then it’s time to walk away,” Carter said in a postgame press conference. “I still have it. It still bothers me to lose games and not play well.”
Vince Carter: When it’s that time, I won’t disrespect the game. I will not. That’s when you get hurt, when you’re doing it for the money. At this point, we’re not doing it for the money. We’re doing it because we love it. The money’s good, of course, and you want to get paid for what you bring to the table. But once you pass 15 years, you’re doing it for love of the game. And when I don’t love the game enough to do all of that, it’s time to say goodbye.
Carter scored a season-high 19 points and five of his teammates also reached double figures to help the Memphis Grizzlies cruise to a 112-95 victory over Los Angeles. ”It’s hard to even imagine not playing anymore, because I still love playing,” said Carter, who turned 39 last month. ”I still have that burning desire. And whenever the body says it’s time, then it’s time to move on. I don’t ever want to disrespect the game and go out there just to play and take the money, because it’s not that.
Carter and a vastly different Memphis lineup than the one the league was seeing even three games ago, are in town to take on the Raptors tonight and Carter is giving no indication that fans will be witnessing his Toronto swan song. “Not now, not yet,” Carter said when asked if he goes into a game like todays thinking this might be his last time on this particular court. “I just go year by year and listen to the body. Every now and then I’ll think about ‘When I do know (it’s time), how do I approach that?’ It’s just tough accepting it because I enjoy playing still. I think when I don’t enjoy playing I will definitely let it be known.”
Bryant announced that he is retiring after this season. Carter, who in his 18th NBA season, plans to play next season and beyond. “For sure,” Carter said. “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. 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.”
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