Magic Talked to Vince Carter Last Summer About Potential Return

By John Denton
Jan. 23, 2018

ORLANDO – Looking to add both talent and veteran wisdom to their reserve corps for this season, the Orlando Magic went out last summer in the NBA’s free-agent signing period and added Jonathon Simmons, Arron Afflalo, Marreese Speights and Shelvin Mack.

Had Orlando had more salary-cap space and things played out a little differently, aging star Vince Carter might have been a part of that Magic mix.

Coach Frank Vogel said on Tuesday that the Magic held extensive talks with Carter and his representatives about what would have amounted to a homecoming for the Daytona Beach native and Orlando summer resident. Carter, who played for the Magic in the 2010-11 and 11-12 seasons, ultimately chose to play for the Sacramento Kings, in part, because they had significantly more money to offer. Also, Carter had a prior relationship with Kings’ head coach Dave Joerger when the two were together in Memphis. Carter signed a one-year deal with the rebuilding Kings.

Carter, who will turn 41 years old on Friday and is the NBA’s oldest player this season, came into Tuesday averaging 4.6 points and 1.9 rebounds in 15.8 minutes a game for slumping Sacramento.

``He and Tom Brady, I’ve got to figure out who their personal trainers are,’’ joked Vogel, referring to the ages of the two stars. ``He’s doing a great job. We had interest in bringing him here this (past) offseason and we were outbid by Sacramento, and they got a lot by bringing a guy like Vince Carter in with his leadership and he’s a guy who can still play. Every time you watch him, he’s still a good basketball player on the court and not just an experience guy. He still gets it done.’’

Added Joerger: ``I have the utmost respect for him as a person, first and foremost, and as a player and what a great teammate he is. Whether it was Memphis or here (for the Kings), he’s been terrific on the court and he does all of the things that we ask him to do with the young guys off the court. … He could do anything. If he wants to go on the (PGA) Tour, he could go on the golf tour. If he wants to play in a band, he could play in a band and if he wants to go on TV, coach or be in the front office – there’s nothing that man cannot do.’’

RESTED AND READY: While playing more with the pass and competing harder defensively have been major factors in the Magic’s stretch of stellar basketball of late, players and coaches agree that there’s also another reason for the inspired play.

Thanks in part to the newly designed NBA schedule with more off days strategically worked in to aid players in their recoveries, the Magic have benefitted of late from having several off days.

Since Jan. 10, the Magic have been off eight of the last 13 days. They had an off day prior to an inspired effort in Washington and had another three days off before their defeat of Minnesota on Jan. 16. Orlando was off the day before pushing Cleveland to the brink on Dec. 18 and then had a two-day break in Boston before upsetting the Celtics on Sunday. Following Tuesday’s game against Sacramento, the Magic will have another three days to prepare for Saturday’s game in Indiana.

``Preparation and rest definitely factor into performance,’’ Vogel said. ``I think the way the schedule is set up, with a longer season and more rest days, even when you have back-to-backs, you’ve had more rest leading up to it. So, I don’t think (fatigue is) as much of a factor.’’

Magic guard Evan Fournier respectfully disagreed with the notion of fatigue not being an issue in situations where teams must play twice in consecutive nights, saying: ``I disagree. Being on the floor, I disagree.’’

Fournier went on to say that Orlando’s extra rest of late has played a major role in the team’s uptick, adding: ``We’ve had a lot of days off between games. We’ve had three days (last week), we had two days (off) in Boston and we’re going to have another three days (off after Tuesday). It’s a really good stretch for us as far as resting our legs. When you have two days between games you just have more energy and more time to focus on your opponent. It’s not a quick bounce-back where you have to totally change the scheme or the focus of the defense. So, it makes a huge difference.’’

COACH MACK: As Mack was crafting some of his finest performances of the season against Cleveland (10 points) and Boston (10 points, three assists and three steals), he had his praises sung by Vogel and Boston’s Brad Stevens, who coincidentally coached the guard while the two were together at Butler University. Both of those coaches agreed that Mack has the basketball IQ and temperament to someday be a successful head coach at whatever level he chooses to work in.

That’s not the first time that Mack has heard that sort of thing and even though he’s still hoping to play several more seasons in the NBA, he’s already started the process that could allow him to someday become a college or high school coach.

Mack, 27, said that he is 23 hours short of earning his degree from Butler University. He has started the process of applying for internships in the summer so that he can get his degree – something that would help him become a coach, but also something that would allow him to fulfill a promise to his mother back in Kentucky.

Mack, who has averaged 4.2 points, 3.6 assists and 2.0 rebounds a game for the Magic, feels he’s been able to survive in the NBA for seven seasons because of the way he studies the game.

``I love basketball,’’ Mack said. ``I love talking the game and situations and breaking stuff down. I think it’s one of the skills and talents I have. I’ve still got some years playing, but I could see myself coaching. I’ve (had) a lot of job opportunities for me presented down the line (in) coaching. It might be something I want to do. I love just trying to spread the knowledge that I’ve learned over time.’’

UP NEXT: Having had the benefit of plenty of extra rest lately, the Magic will now have three more off days to prepare for their next game.

Orlando doesn’t play again until Saturday when it travels to Indiana to face the Victor Oladipo and the Pacers. The Magic are 0-2 this season against the Pacers, losing 105-97 in Orlando on Nov. 20 and 121-109 in Indiana on Nov. 27. Oladipo, a member of the Magic from 2013-16, scored 29 and 26 points in the two games against his former team.

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