We continue our “23 days of Raptors history” with Vince Carter‘s forced trade to the New Jersey Nets. A defining moment for the future of the Toronto Raptors.
December 17, 2004. A date that resonates with a lot of Raptors fans for all the wrong reasons. After months of turmoil Vince Carter was finally traded to the Nets for Alonzo Mourning, Aaron Williams, Eric Williams and two first round draft picks.
The trade turned out to be one of the most lopsided deals in history.
Following the 2003-04 season where the Raptors missed out on the playoffs by three games, general manager Glen Grunwald and the coaching staff were fired for their performances.
It was reported that Carter was becoming disillusioned with the franchise and the direction they were heading in, but in a private meeting with then-Raptors president Richard Peddie, he was reassured that the team was solely focused on becoming a contender.
Carter’s fears weren’t exactly alleviated when Rob Babcock was hired and it seemed like the Raptors were about to go through a rebuild.
Rumors were rife that Carter wanted to be traded, and most fans knew how it would end.
Averaging 15.9 points per game in his twenty starts before being traded, Carter didn’t look the same as before and his trade value seemed to be declining every time he stepped foot on the court. He wanted out and there was no rationalization in keeping him any longer. Vince was sulking and the Raptors were losing because of him.
There’s even a rumor that Vince Carter body slammed head coach Sam Mitchell after an altercation in Portland.
Carter was dealt to the New Jersey Nets – who were by no means a perfect franchise – on December 17, 2004. Trading him wasn’t necessarily the shocking part, most of the fan base had accepted that fate long before it happened. The return for Carter was, however, absolutely baffling.
Alonzo Mourning didn’t step foot in Toronto, something we all sensed would happen. Eric Williams and Aaron Williams were both role players respectively but contributed approximately nothing.
The 2005 first round pick was spent on Oklahoma State SF, Joey Graham who spent four seasons in Toronto before leaving for Denver. Graham had potential but sadly never realised it. The 2006 pick took a slightly different route. The Raptors traded the Nets pick, Jalen Rose and cash for former Raptor Antonio Davis. Nice, right?
No. Davis played 8 games in Toronto before being waived. That was the end of that.
Carter is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Raptor of all-time. His legacy, however, may well be defined by that trade. Carter was mercilessly booed on his return to Toronto for many years afterwards. But like always, time heals all wounds and Carter and the Raptors seem on the right path to reconciliation.
Checkout day 14 of our “23 days of Raptors history” when we talk about the selection of Andrea Bargnani.