Grind City Media 2016/17 Exit Interview: Vince Carter pt. 1
Carter 2016/17 Exit Interviews playlist
MikeCheck: Grizzlies Offseason Outlook – Vince Carter
By Michael Wallace
Grind City Media
MEMPHIS – What’s next for the Memphis Grizzlies?
Who stays? Who goes?
How will the Grit’N’Grind era continue to evolve?
Those questions and more face the Grizzlies as they embark on an offseason destined for change after their seventh consecutive playoff trip ended in a six-game series loss to the Spurs in the first round. There’s plenty of optimism moving forward. There’s also clearly something most fans, players, coaches and executives agree on: 43 wins, a No. 7 seed in the playoffs and a first-round exit aren’t good enough.
Over a stretch of 17 weekdays, we’ll dive into my ‘Offseason Outlook’ series that breaks down my personal analysis as to where each player on the Grizzlies’ roster stands, in addition to coach David Fizdale and general manager Chris Wallace, heading into a potentially pivotal offseason.
Player: Vince Carter, 40
Measurables: 6-6, 220 – 19th NBA Season
2016-17 Stats: 8.0ppg, 3.1rpg, 37.8 3-pt FG%; 24.7 mpg
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent – $4.3 million salary in 2016-17
Carter became the oldest player in NBA history to score at least 20 points off the bench when he did so on Nov. 8 against Denver. In the series against the Spurs, he was also the oldest player to start a playoff game since Dikembe Mutombo did so at age 41 in 2008.
You hear people say all the time, ‘Go chase that ring.’ That word, ‘chase,’ is just tough for me. I find it hard to sit on a phone, call teams and – I don’t want to use the word ‘beg.’ I want to fit on a team where it makes sense. I want to contribute. I still want to play. I still have game left to play.
Vince Carter gets it. It’s that simple. From my vantage point, there wasn’t a role on the court he was unwilling to take on or a task off the court he wasn’t eager to handle at this stage of his career. As the season progressed, Carter transitioned from a spot-duty contributor to sixth-man to floor-spacing, streak-shooting starter after Chandler Parsons (knee) was shut down. With 30 double-figure scoring games, including four with at least 20 points, flashes of ‘Vinsanity’ remain. Carter reminded me plenty of times he’s no relic and wants no part of a retirement tour next season. Since that foot injury derailed his first year in Memphis, Carter’s production increased each of his three seasons here. And he wants more.
When your most consistent and reliable wing player outside of Mike Conley is two years younger than the head coach, yet realistically old enough to joke about being the father of rookie Deyonta Davis, something went wrong with the rotation. At one point earlier in the season, there was thought Carter might be released to clear a roster spot to add depth at point guard when Conley was injured. Carter survived and thrived, but probably took on a role greater than reasonably expected. In a perfect world, a healthy Parsons and younger, cheaper backups James Ennis and Wayne Selden would eat up future wing minutes that went to the ageless Carter and 35-year-old fellow free agent Tony Allen.
If the future Hall of Famer wants to become the only perimeter player other than Kobe Bryant to play a 20th NBA season, the feeling here is there should be a place made for Carter on Memphis’ roster. His role likely wouldn’t be solidified in camp next season, but one thing we all know is Carter’s value goes way beyond boxscore contributions. He advised Conley on adjusting to leadership and the spotlight that came with his big contract. He advised Zach Randolph on transitioning from starter to reserve. He advised young guys on conditioning and professionalism. Then, Carter dunked on a few guys and knocked down some threes. A veteran’s minimum salary or a lower-level exception would be a bit less than what Carter earned this season, but that may be the only way he financially fits.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Michael Wallace are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.