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NBA Daily: Finding Vince Carter’s Next Home

With Vince Carter announcing his return, Matt John takes a look at which team could bring him in for his 22nd season.

Matt John

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There is so much going on in the NBA that frankly, Vince Carter’s next team isn’t exactly the most exciting storyline going on right now. Because of how inspirational it is that a 42-year-old is still pressing forward with his NBA career, though, it’s still worth taking a break from what’s going on in the playoffs and taking a look at where his next stop could be.

What makes this occasion so special is that when he does sign on with someone, next season will be Vince’s 22nd in the NBA, a new record. Impressively, Carter’s is projected to be more than just a fill-in roster spot. He’s still carrying his weight after all these years.

Any interested party is going to get its money’s worth if they bring in Carter, who missed only six games this past season and scored 7.4 points on 42/39/71 splits while averaging 17.5 minutes per game. Not quite at the level of peak “Vinsanity,” but for 42 years old, the veteran has shown that he’s still got plenty of basketball left in him.

Where he wants to go is anyone’s guess. Vince has bounced around in the past couple of seasons. With his career on its last legs, he astoundingly hasn’t opted for riding anyone’s coattails for a shot at a ring. At least not since his days in Memphis ended. Instead, he’s chosen to be more of a mentor for young teams looking to achieve their potential.

This pathway has garnered a lot of praise for Vince. Both Sacramento and Atlanta have praised the impact he’s had on teaching the young players. It looks as though it’s actually getting these teams results. The Kings had their best season in over a decade and Atlanta in a year’s time became one of the league’s most entertaining young teams. He’s not solely responsible for turning things around, but their success indicates that he was worth every penny.

As great as it’s been to see Vince is using his final years to influence the league’s next generation of stars, no one would blame him if he went and joined a contender.

Mentoring A Young Team

Any young and rebuilding team could use a veteran presence to steer itself in the right direction. Vince Carter has proven himself to be as such. In the past two seasons, Vince has proven his worth as a mentor for young teams from his time with the Kings and Hawks.

There are several teams that could use a guy like Vince to guide its youth and stabilize itself in the long-term.

Cleveland

The Cavaliers have pretty much done everything right since LeBron departed again. They’ve accumulated assets and are bound to get a high pick in this season’s lottery. It’s going to be a long journey for them to return to relevance, but they’ve been smart in their rebuilding process.

Adding Vince would be another step in the right direction. Since Channing Frye is retiring this season, Carter would step in for him as the grizzled veteran that the young team would look up to. Let’s be honest: Cleveland hasn’t been the most stable situation in the past two decades with teams minus LeBron. So, seeing them turn a new corner by adding a guy like Vince could change a lot for the better.

Phoenix

Never mind that Carter spent a half season in the desert eight years ago. The Suns haven’t exactly proven to be the most well-run franchise. Now that they’ve hired Monty Williams to run the show, they could definitely use the veteran leadership that Vince has.

To be fair they already had that in Tyson Chandler and Jared Dudley for the last couple of years. The difference between them and Carter is that he probably wouldn’t cost $80+ million. Vince isn’t the same player the Suns acquired back in 2011, but he can help turn things around for a franchise still looking for its first playoff berth since even before Carter had come aboard.

Atlanta

Who’s to say his time in the ATL is done? Carter has gone on record talking about how strongly he embraced the mentor role he had with the team. Staying with the Hawks would save him the time and effort of having to move.

Carter has a rapport with this team, and it would be fun to have him aboard as the team grows even more in the second year of the Trae Young-John Collins era. Atlanta could surprise a lot of people next season. Having Vince along for the ride would make their story all the better.

New York would also be nice, but their status for where they are as a team could drastically change if their plans to bring in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving/Kemba Walker come to fruition. If that does happen, they could still get him. The reason why would just be a little different, which leads us to the next option for Vince.

Going For The Ring

All hell could break loose this summer. So many of the teams regarded as contenders could lose that label if their best player(s) go elsewhere. Golden State, Toronto, Boston and Philadelphia have so much to lose this summer. If they lose their best players, then they don’t really have the title of contender anymore.

With that in mind, it’s hard to say for sure who fits the bill. Besides, as stated before, Carter can bring three-point shooting to anyone who could use it. Even his veteran leadership could be a nice asset to have. Even the best teams suffer turmoil. Having Carter can help them press forward so they can live up to expectations. A few of these contenders could use a guy like him.

Houston

The Rockets will be looking for all the help they can get this summer. Carter would be a cheap addition all things considered and would fill in admirably in a hypothetical void potentially left by Gerald Green this summer.

The Rockets rely on their three-point shooting a lot to generate their offense. Carter at the very least would not take much away from them. Houston kind of struggled with bench depth this season, so getting a guy as proven as Carter would at least put a proven rotation player on their roster. There is a chance he may be nothing more than another Joe Johnson circa-2018, but Houston doesn’t exactly have a plethora of options and their clock is ticking. Taking a flyer on Vince couldn’t do that much harm.

Milwaukee

Much like the Rockets, the Bucks rely on their three-point shooting in order for their offense to function fully, as they put up the second-most three-point attempts this season. Now that the team has hit its stride, getting another three-point shooter and a veteran presence like Vince Carter.

Even if he wouldn’t play much, Vince could definitely guide the still-relatively young team as they enter this new era of dominance with Giannis at the forefront. The team already showed its desire for veteran leadership with Pau Gasol. Carter can not only do what Gasol does in that department, but he also can also do a little more of what Milwaukee wants on the floor.

Philadelphia

Call it cheating, but Philly would still be in a good place even if both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris both leave. Carter would provide apt floor spacing that the team relies on to help both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

The Sixers have a ton of wing depth this season. If they continue to have this much success because of it, they are bound to lose some of that depth. James Ennis III and Mike Scott are playing fantastic on the biggest stage of professional basketball. If they get richer offers than the Sixers can afford, then Carter would at least help in the floor spacing department. He’s not the sexiest option there, but he’s shown enough that he is at least an option.

Nostalgia

There were exactly two teams that Vince spent his prime with – the Raptors and the Nets. He may not have achieved much playoff success with either franchise but he still left his mark there. Going back to either of those teams can bring back some of the good times.

Toronto

This reunion has been rumored for years on end now. Vince’s time as a Raptor did not have a happy ending. Almost 15 years later, time has passed, hearts have mended and Toronto appears to have been on good terms with Vince for the past few years. It would be fitting if Vince ended his career where it all started.

With what’s at stake this summer, adding Vince Carter would be a winning scenario for the Raptors either way. If Kawhi Leonard stays, then Vince gets to play on a great Raptors team aiming to go to the NBA Finals. If Kawhi leaves, then bringing Vince Carter can remind both the franchise and the fans of the good old days as the franchise transitions to its next era.

Brooklyn

You know what’s weird? In two months, it will have been ten years since the Nets traded Carter to the Magic. The nostalgic feelings aren’t nearly as strong since Carter only spent nearly five years there, and the franchise has since moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn.

It still would be an appealing reunion because Brooklyn had a lot of good veterans in the locker room this season. The likes of Jared Dudley and Ed Davis definitely had a huge impact on the game. If those guys leave, Carter would add both nostalgia and a veteran presence to a team that has developed an excellent culture of winning.

Orlando would be put here but he was only with the Magic for a season-and-a-half and just as he was coming out of his prime.

This may sound anti-climactic but, Vince Carter is free to do whatever he wants. Besides staying in the game, there’s really not much else to prove at this point. After starring in one of the most infamous fallouts a basketball star has ever had with his franchise, Vince has molded himself into one of the league’s most well-liked teammates. By doing this, he’s redeemed himself for his earlier mishaps.

Because of that, no matter where Half-Man, Half-Amazing goes, there’s no wrong answer.

Matt John is a staff writer for Basketball Insiders. He is currently a Utah resident, but a Massachusetts native.

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NBA Daily: Veterans Influencing Spurs Youngsters

Having NBA veterans that can ease young players into the league can be very helpful, which is why Thomas Robinson and Darius Morris have been nice additions to the Spurs’ summer league roster.

Matt John

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The Summer League is a time for many things.

It’s a time for young players to get a taste of what professional basketball is like. It’s a time for teams to evaluate what young talent they have their roster. Most importantly of all, it’s a time for growth.

The Summer League, whether it be in Salt Lake, Sacramento or Las Vegas, serves as a transition for the new blood. Most are either fresh out of college or just arrived into the country, who are also either just beginning or have recently begun their NBA career. Making that transition isn’t always seamless. As talented as some of these kids are, they are prone to make mistakes. That’s where having a veteran who has been around the block can help.

For this year’s summer league. San Antonio brought in two who fit the profile: Thomas Robinson and Darius Morris.

Morris has bounced around between the NBA and the G League since being drafted 41st overall by the Lakers back in 2011. He’s been around the league long enough that playing in the Summer League wasn’t originally in the plans. That all changed when the Spurs called him.

“They actually reached out to me and told me they were interested,” Morris said. “When an organization like the Spurs calls you, you can come in and show that you can blend in and the high character is going to follow you the rest of the way.”

Robinson has also been a journeyman since being selected sixth overall by the Kings back in 2012. Now that he has found himself on the Spurs, he praised the organization for its player development.

“To even get any type of time under anybody on this staff is helpful for any player,” Robinson said. “Whether it’s summer league, mini-camp, or the real roster, it’s always helpful to learn from these guys. They’re like the Mecca of NBA basketball.”

Not many can say that they are the veteran of a summer league team, but Morris not only has that role but also appears to have embraced it since coming on for the Spurs. So much so that even though he takes that responsibility seriously, he and his teammates can have a laugh about it.

“I joke with the guys that I’m transitioning to that vet stage like a little baby vet,” Morris said. “To be able to extend whatever knowledge to the young guys, and kind of getting me in that mode as opposed to being that guy that was drafted, just transitioning to being a mentor and just helping where I can.”

There are various ways in which those are designated as mentors decide to use their role. Some give very little advice while others give nothing but advice. For Morris, he has implemented a “trial by fire” strategy for his younger teammates.

“First, you want them to go out there and play freely,” Morris said. “You don’t want to give them too much advice at first. You just kind of sit back and just watch… You don’t want to put too many things in their ear. Everything is already going 100 miles per hour for you out there and as they go along, just give my advice as we go along.”

As the other veteran/mentor on the squad, Robinson’s approach is simple on the court – just being himself for the Spurs.

“I’m not trying to show that I can do anything different,” Robinson said. “I just want to show that I’m doing everything that they ask me to do the first time.”

Since coming to San Antonio, Robinson has gotten to know some of the Spurs’ young talent. He even took the time to praise some of the Spurs’ young talent – in particular, one of the Spurs’ most recent first-rounders, Keldon Johnson.

“‘Baby Russ’. That’s what I called him” Robinson said. “He doesn’t get tired. He’s super aggressive… He’s big, athletic. I definitely see the makings of a superstar.”

Both Morris and Robinson are leaving impressions with the younger players on their squad. The Spurs other first-rounder this season, Luka Samanic, spoke highly of what they’ve been able to do for him primarily with how he handles his mistakes.

“If I do one quick mistake in the beginning, then it affects my game later,” Samanic said. “So they’re all about ‘Don’t worry about mistakes. You’ll miss shots. It’s all normal here.’ So they helped me a lot with that.”

Blake Ahearn, who coached the Spurs at the Utah Summer League, praised both Robinson and Morris for the calming influence they have on the team.

“It’s huge,” Ahearn said. “Having some of those calming-presence guys on the floor helps those younger guys… That’s a good luxury for coaches to have.”

Spurs assistant Becky Hammon also heaped praise for the two veterans primarily for what they have been able to do for the Spurs’ young players off the court while also reiterating the value guys like that have on these teams.

“They’ve been talking to them in their ear the whole time about what it takes to be a professional and get opportunities,” Hammon said. “Their leadership on the court, off the court has been very helpful. Obviously, having guys like that in a situation like that is very helpful and invaluable.”

Now, undoubtedly, the goal for Robinson and Morris is to be in the NBA again. They’ve been there before and their willingness to play in the summer league shows that they’re not giving up on their dreams.

Regardless of whether they make it, they can take comfort that, in the end, they positively impacted the Spurs of tomorrow.

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NBA Daily: Carsen Edwards Sending Good Vibrations in Las Vegas

Celtics rookie Carsen Edwards took Las Vegas by storm not only earning a multi-year contract but likely a significant role in Boston this coming season.

Shane Rhodes

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Las Vegas can be a scary place; just ask Carsen Edwards.

“Not to be dramatic, but I really thought I was about to die.”

Edwards, among a number of other players and NBA-related persons, found himself in the midst of two earthquakes – magnitude 6.7 and 7.1 – that rocked southern Nevada and California last week. “I was in my room by myself,” Edwards said, “and I’m on the 16th floor so, right then I’m thinking – and I know this sounds deep – how am I going to survive?”

Fortunately, for Edwards, his days reading about covering online betting odds in the Silver State may be numbered.

While the earthquakes may have shaken Las Vegas, the Purdue University product has sent the Boston Celtics his own good vibrations. Edwards has impressed mightily during his stint with the Summer League Celtics, so much so that, while fellow second-round pick Tremont Waters recently agreed to a two-way deal with Boston, the Celtics have reportedly are negotiating a full-time deal with the Edwards. And, while he has remained humble when questioned about his high-quality play, it’s hard to imagine that Edwards will see much more time in Las Vegas beyond the coming Summer League Tournament.

“My first experience was a blessing, man” Edwards told Basketball Insiders. “I’m so happy to be here, just to have this opportunity and put on that jersey and be out there.”

Edwards, a standout Boilermaker, has been a certified bucket-getter in his short Summer League tenure. Through four games (and two starts), the diminutive combo-guard has averaged 18 points to go along with 2.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and a steal in just 23 minutes per contest. Edwards has gotten to his spots on the floor with ease – when it hasn’t been easy, he’s simply put his head down and bullied his way there – and he certainly hasn’t been afraid to pull up from deep.

Edwards has also come along as a shooter since his last showing in the NCAA tournament. In three seasons with Purdue, Edwards posted field goal and three-point percentages of 41.2% and 36.8%, respectively. Since Edwards has proven himself one of the Summer League’s best and most consistent shooters; he has shot 52% from the floor and 48.4% from three-point range.

“I just try to make the right decisions,” Edwards said. “I just try to get into my space, places where I’m comfortable.”

Despite his relative inexperience against NBA-level competition, a continued ascent for Edwards – and an end to his Summer League career after just his rookie appearance – shouldn’t be put out of the question as players and teams head into next season and beyond.

And, while he may not have wanted to slip into the second round of June’s 2019 NBA Draft, Edwards may have hit the jackpot in landing with Boston.

While Head Coach Brad Stevens has struggled with certain aspects of coaching, he has never had a problem with maximizing the production of his guards. 2011’s Mr. Irrelevant, Isaiah Thomas, was a Most Valuable Player candidate in 2017, while Kyrie Irving, despite the reported unrest, posted arguably the two best statistical seasons of his career with the Celtics. Others, including Avery Bradley, Evan Turner and Jordan Crawford have flourished under his watch, and Edwards may be the next player to benefit from Stevens’ system.

Still, Edwards’ work is far from over, and he knows it. “It’s not the same [as in college],” he said as he pointed out that he still needed to focus on his defense, decisions making and consistency. “I’m still learning so much.”

“I know [the Boston Celtics] just want me to improve. Help the team win, but continue to try and improve and be consistent every game.”

Edwards isn’t the perfect prospect or one without his deficiencies by any means. They have yet to do so in the Summer League, and his strong, stocky build should help counteract this to a degree, but NBA competition will take advantage of Edwards’ 6-foot-flat height. And, if it wasn’t already obvious, Edwards is a score-first, pass later type of guard; while that necessarily isn’t a bad thing, given the role he should serve with the Celtics, Edwards’ passing ability must improve as he transitions to the NBA game.

“[NBA players] are more athletic, they have more length,” Edwards said. “Playing against those guys, it’s tough.”

As Edwards pointed out, it will, in fact, be tough for him. But, between the roster and coaching fit and his own talent, it’s as if everything has started to come together for the talented guard and it is there for the taking.

After his debut, Edwards noted his primary Summer League goal was to win. “I just want to make an impact on the team and just help us win,” Edwards said.

Should he take advantage of what’s in front of him, Edwards has the chance to be something special in the NBA, and he could help the Celtics do just that for a long time.

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NBA Daily: Karl-Anthony Towns Confident About What Lies Ahead

David Yapkowitz sits down with Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns to discuss the injury-filled finish to last season, the moves the organization made this offseason and what lies ahead.

David Yapkowitz

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After making a huge trade for Jimmy Butler one year ago, the Minnesota Timberwolves had just broken one of the NBA’s longest playoff droughts when they made the postseason.

Fast forward to the present – Butler was traded, Tom Thibodeau got let go and the Wolves failed to reach the postseason with a 36-46 record.

There is room for optimism, however. Minnesota is still led by Karl-Anthony Towns, one of the top rising stars in the league with the prime of his career ahead of him. He’s arguably the best big man in the NBA at the young age of 23 years old.

The Wolves locked Towns up for the foreseeable future after he signed a Supermax contract extension back in September. He believes his game will definitely expand and grow as head coach Ryan Saunders continues to work with him.

“I feel that I’m going to be able to do a little more,” Towns told Basketball Insiders in an exclusive interview. “I got more freedom, I got a head coach that’s going to use my talents a little better. It’s going to be good.”

The major changes to the Wolves organization didn’t stop with the roster or the coaching staff. Thibodeau had a dual role as head coach and president of basketball operations. To replace his front office duties, the team brought in longtime executive Gersson Rosas, who comes from the Houston Rockets with 16 years of executive duty experience.

After taking over head coaching duties back in January, Saunders will now have a full offseason and training camp with the team to implement his style of play. All of this combined is something that Towns believes will be helpful to the team.

“It’s going to be big,” Towns told Basketball Insiders. “I think not just only Ryan [Saunders] but having such a different culture, a different team. I think that’s going to be a big change for us. It’s going to be a very beneficial change.”

The Wolves are hoping part of that change is going to be a healthy roster. The team struggled with key injuries, especially late in the season when they were trying to mount a late playoff push. Robert Covington, who had emerged as a great compliment to Towns, missed a big part of the second half of the season. Jeff Teague was also in and out of the lineup all year.

Minnesota was firmly in the playoff picture for most of the season, even when they were hovering near the bottom, but the key injuries really took a toll as the year came winding down.

“We had a lot of change. That constitutes to that and our season. We didn’t make the playoffs because we just ran into the injury bug. Injuries really hit us and took our spark out of us,” Towns told Basketball Insiders. “We were in a great spot before the injuries, but it happens. That’s just how the league works. You got to find ways to win, we just came up a little short.”

Luckily, there are some added reinforcements on the way. The Wolves acquired highly touted prospect Jarrett Culver out of Texas Tech in a draft-night trade. Culver has the ability to play multiple positions, especially on the defensive end. Although he is being held out of summer league, there’s no denying his potential.

In the second round, the Wolves drafted Jaylen Nowell, a high-scoring guard who shot 44 percent from three-point range last season at Washington. He’s only 19 years old and has plenty of unlocked potential as well for a second-round player.

“I see him [Culver] bringing a lot of versatility. I see him bringing length, I see him bringing a hungriness to the team, he wants to prove himself. We’re going to have a very, very good rookie on our hands,” Towns told Basketball Insiders. “And let’s also not forget Jaylen Nowell. He’s a high IQ player and we’re very fortunate he fell to us.”

The draft isn’t the only area where the Wolves improved their roster. They made a couple of solid free agent moves as well, signing a trio of versatile forwards in Jordan Bell, Jake Layman and Noah Vonleh.

Bell has seen sporadic playing time the past few seasons with the Golden State Warriors, but he’s still young and has already shown an ability to switch defensively from guards to bigs. Layman had a solid year as one of Portland’s key contributors off the bench. Vonleh has bounced around the league a bit, but was one of the lone bright spots for the Knicks last season.

“They’re going to bring a lot of experience from great organizations,” Towns told Basketball Insiders. “They bring a lot of playoff experience as well, and they’re also going to bring us a lot of talent. They’re all very versatile and they bring a lot to the table.”

And as the 2019 NBA Summer League is now in full swing with free agency winding down, Towns is happy with the steps the Wolves have taken. He’s confident in this team and what lies ahead.

“We’ve already taken the next step, there is no next step, we’ve already taken the next step,” Towns told Basketball Insiders. “We’ve made the changes to our team that we needed to make and we’re ready to go.”

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