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Veteran guard not ready to become Coach Carter just yet

Anthony Carter sees Nuggets camp as opportunity to keep NBA career going

Veteran point guard Anthony Carter wants to be an NBA coach someday, but he still feels he can be valuable as a player.
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images

Undrafted as a 23-year-old out of Hawaii, Anthony Carter seemed to be an unlikely candidate for a lengthy NBA career.

He spent his first year as a professional in Yakima, Wash., before joining the Miami Heat in 1999. Subsisting primarily on one-year contracts, Carter also made stops in San Antonio, Minnesota, Denver, New York and Toronto over the course of 13 NBA seasons.

At some point, Carter plans to join an NBA coaching staff or work in a front office. For now, he’s hoping to make the most of his opportunity as a non-roster invitee with the Nuggets.

“I feel like I can still play,” Carter said Thursday. “Just playing these last few days, it’s been great to be able to run up and down, push the ball and get into people on the defensive end.”

Though Nuggets coach George Karl and the team’s front office executives love what Carter brings as a veteran on the floor and in the locker room, Denver has 15 players under contract for 2012-13. Carter isn’t worried about the numbers.

“I wanted to come in, try to earn a spot.,” he said. “At the same time, I might get looked at by other teams in the preseason. It’s a win-win situation. They’re helping me out and I’m helping the players out in practice by going hard and playing my game.

Carter, 37, said he worked out for the Charlotte Bobcats last month. Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap, who was an assistant for the Nuggets from 2006-08, liked Carter but said the team was going to give some younger players a shot.

Carter returned to Denver, where he makes his offseason home, and considered seeking opportunities as a coach.

Coaching will be a natural transition for Carter, who has played for Karl, Pat Riley and Gregg Popovich. Those three coaches have accounted for more than 3,000 NBA victories.

“I’ve been lucky,” Carter said. “I had Pat Riley my first four years, and he instilled a lot of things in me that are still keeping me around. He told me not to take anything for granted and always be upfront with coaches and tell them how you feel. That took me a long way. Without that, I wouldn’t be around.”

Riley also stressed the importance of starting his offseason conditioning program two months before training camp. Carter was often at the Colorado Athletic Club at 5 a.m. this summer preparing for one more run at an NBA job.

“I would go early because my youngest son didn’t want to get up that early,” he said. “That was my only chance to work out. I’d come back and get him by 9 and go from there.”

Carter also spent time working with his 17-year-old son Josh and his high school teammates, as well as his 10-year-old son Devin and his friends. Josh is a senior seeking a second consecutive 2A state title with Denver Christian High School.

“They were 26-0 last year and won state,” the proud father said. “He’s the first one to ever win a championship in our family.”

Whether it’s as a player or as a coach, Carter is working hard to become the second.

"He's still pretty good," Karl said. "He's still a winner."