Vince Carter: is return to Raptors truly “on”?

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 17: Vince Carter
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 17: Vince Carter /

Speculation has increased dramatically about the sentimental possibility of the Raptors bringing back Vince Carter to fill the team’s open roster spot. He might like that, but does it make sense?

The once great Vincent Lamar Carter, half-man…half-amazing, according to Chuck Swirsky, is playing out the string with a bad Sacramento squad. He’s a candidate to be bought out, and there’s interest in some quarters in bringing him back to Toronto, where his career began.

Now that the trade deadline is passed, and Vince remains a member of the Kings, a few things have to happen before a reunion is possible. He would have to be waived by Sac-to, and the Toronto Raptors would need to elbow other teams aside (assuming there is interest in Vince’s services from playoff-bound squads).

SACRAMENTO, CA – DECEMBER 10: Jonas Valanciunas chats with Vince Carter
SACRAMENTO, CA – DECEMBER 10: Jonas Valanciunas chats with Vince Carter /

Would Vince want to return? I don’t know, but if I were his agent, I’d make it clear that Vince won’t suit up if all he’s going to do is wave a towel on the bench. He wants a meaningful role wherever he closes out his career (I’m assuming he will hang up his sneakers after this season. The man is 41). Presumably he’d like to leave with a championship ring on his finger, or at least the chance of one.

What’s far more important is the consideration of whether the Raptors should even bother with the pursuit. It’s not exactly a given that Toronto needs anyone else. Dwane Casey is rolling 10 players, while Norman Powell and Lucas Nogueira sit uneasily, waiting for a chance to get back in the rotation. Whatever garbage time needs to eaten up can be done so with Norm, Bebe and the G League call-ups. I doubt Vince would want to bother anyway. If the playoffs started tomorrow, I’d be happy to take my chances with the current, extremely deep, group.

The impact of a Carter return

Coach Casey is a self-described company man, so if Masai Ujiri were to bring Air Canada back to his spiritual home, our coach would paste a smile on his face and tell everyone he’s thrilled. But I’ve done enough coaching to know there aren’t many notions more irksome than the one that says you have to play so-and-so when the reason to do it (in this case, nostalgia) is not connected with winning a game or player development.

Vince’s numbers for the year are respectable, all things considered: 4.9 points per game, and 35.5% from beyond the arc in 16.8 minutes over 35 games. Apparently Kings management is happy with how he’s worked with their young players, so he’s not likely to be a bad influence in the dressing room.

But does that make Vince the one guy you want to call upon if our team is down 2 points in Game 7 of the second round? If you put him on a depth chart, he’s going to be on the bottom. How does this make any sense?

More from Raptors Rapture

The most important quality of all for playoff success is experience. Hopefully all our people are back next season, and will take advantage of what they learned. I don’t want any minutes issued to a guy who’s as good as gone.

Masai, if the Raptors make the finals, you should extend an invitation to Vince to visit as an honoured guest. He can shake some hands, talk to the team at practice, sit courtside, get introduced to the fans – that’s enough.