Grizzlies sign Vince Carter, Continue Offseason Turnaround

Posted on August 1, 2014

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grizzBy Travis Nauert

The NBA Summer League provides new, young or struggling players an opportunity to improve their skills, gain confidence, and adjust to the speed of the professional game. For the Grizzlies, this meant breaking in Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes, and (hopefully) polishing Jamaal Franklin. Granted, Franklin was never really broken in last year. Additionally, it was a chance to launch a full court recruiting press on a valued free agent.

Daytona Beach native Vince Carter spends his off-seasons in Windermere, Florida. The close proximity of the Orlando Summer League allowed the Grizzlies front office easy access to the coveted veteran. During the early morning hours of July 12th, Carter and the Grizzlies reached an agreement. He signed a three-year contract worth $12 million.

Carter will largely replace Mike Miller as a veteran leader with the ability to make outside shots. In fact, some argue Carter is an upgrade. He can step into the starting five or serve as a role player off the bench. Over the past two seasons, no bench player has more three pointers than Carter (304). That’s 59 more than Jamal Crawford (245) who is next best. He ranks 7th all time in 3 pointers made, 25th all time in points scored, and averages 20.2 points per game for his career. Moreover, he is comfortable with the ball in his hands, confident in late game situations, and underrated on the defensive end. Dave Joerger praised Carter as “a top 5 pick and roll player in the NBA”.

Drafted 5th overall in 1998, Carter played in two Final Fours during his three years at North Carolina. He was selected 5th overall by Golden State, but was sent to Toronto in exchange for fellow Tar Heel Antawn Jamison. For reference, the same draft produced NBA champions Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce.

Carter received Rookie of the Year honors, and memorably won the Dunk Contest in 2000. He went on to help team USA win a gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Sydney. Now an NBA journeyman, Carter is joining his 6th team as he embarks on a 17th season. Although time separates him from the days of “Vinsanity”, “Half-Man Half-Amazing”, and “Air Canada”, Carter will return to his roots by donning #15 once again. “That’s who I am, that’s where it started, it’s a great feeling”, he said in his press conference.

In Memphis, the summer began with a power struggle bordering on Soprano or Game of Thrones like proportions. Director of Scouting David Mincberg sought an expanded role by further befriending majority owner Robert Pera. CEO Jason Levien and Assistant GM Stu Lash lost their jobs, and head coach Dave Joerger appeared to be next. Fortunately, for continuity’s sake, the carnage was limited to two casualties. Joerger was given an extension, while Chris Wallace, John Hollinger, and Jason Wexler were all retained as the organization saved face.

The Grizzlies weren’t out of bizarro world yet, though. Robert Pera responded to cries for transparency in the only fashion a 36 year old tech billionaire could. A Q&A session on Twitter.

While the offseason start was less than desirable, the draft, summer league, and Carter signing have built positive momentum ahead of the regular season. Only days after the Carter signing, the Grizzlies announced the re-signing of Beno Udrih following a productive playoff series against Oklahoma City. Much like the season itself, a strong finish is overshadowing a lousy start.

The lasting impression from Carter’s introduction was an emphasis on comfort with the organization, both on and off the court. “I just see they’re playoff-ready…Go as far as possible and hopefully hold up that O’Brien trophy here in Memphis”, he said. For Grizzlies fans, that’s a comfortable vision.

Click here to watch Carter’s introductory press conference.

Travis Nauert is a Memphis native who recently graduated from The University of Alabama. Read his coverage of the Memphis Grizzlies at www.bearsofbeale.wordpress.com

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Posted in: Grizzlies, Sports