Ten years ago in December, Vince Carter was shipped to the New Jersey Nets from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and two first-round draft picks, in an effort to reclaim athleticism after the team had parted ways with Kenyon Martin, Kerry Kittles and Lucious Harris. The trade for Carter would have made George Steinbrenner proud.
The Nets were in the midst of early season slump. Prior to that, they were coming off of a successful but disappointing season in which they won 47 games but fell in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the eventual champion Detroit Pistons.
New Jersey, after remaining so consistent the prior three seasons, was catapulted back into title contention. Carter, then a four-time All-Star, had been falling out of favor with a new head coach and regime before settling into his new surroundings.
The Nets received a gifted scorer, who for the four years prior averaged 24 points, five rebounds and four assists. Vince Carter’s arrival brought hope to a team that started the season 2-11.
Success was not immediate. Following the trade, New Jersey went 16-15 through the month of January and the team lost Richard Jefferson to a season-ending wrist injury.
Vinsanity would begin to envelope all of Nets nation. Throughout the final two and a half months, Carter and Kidd led New Jersey to a 42-40 overall record and a 16-8 record from the beginning of March.
Carter was not known for his defense, but the team did perform well defensively ranking sixth in the entire league in opposing ppg at 93. Carter averaged close to 40 minutes per game and shot an outstanding 43% from deep. New Jersey would be swept in a first round series verse the Heat later on.
The 2005 season, the first full season that Carter spent in the Garden State, would produce similar results. An early season letdown was followed by a see-saw of surges and plunges.
The Nets would finish 45-37 and racked up a 20-game winning streak in the process, the largest in the NBA that season. Carter tied a career-high for points in a single game with 51 against Miami in December.
The Nets won their first playoff series verse Indiana but would lose to the eventual champion Heat 4-1 in the semi-finals.
The following two seasons involved a lot of injury and an influx of change, with the lone bright spots of the team being the consistent play of Carter and Kidd. Injuries to Nenad Krstic and Richard Jefferson sabotaged the 06-07 campaign early, but the team rallied, finishing the season .500.
At the time, Carter and Kidd became the first teammates, in over 18 years, to record triple-doubles in the same game. New Jersey later lost to the LeBron James-led Cavaliers 4-2 in the semi-finals.
Whatever optimism fans had for the 2007 Nets quickly dissipated after early season injuries to Carter and Krstic. The Nets fell seven games below .500 at the all-star break and traded Jason Kidd to the Mavericks for future all-star point guard Devin Harris, two first-round draft picks, a suite of role players and $3 million.
The team compiled the same record of 34-48 in 2007 and 2008 before Carter was traded to his hometown team of Orlando for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and Courtney Lee. Loyal Nets fans would love to forget what happened next, but in case you forgot here’s a reminder.
The Nets lost 18 in a row to start the 2009 season, finishing with 12 wins.
If it weren’t for blossoming, but oft-injured, center Brook Lopez, then New Jersey might as well have held games in the Hudson River because all hope for a competitive basketball team was sinking.
In retrospect, New Jersey didn’t part with considerable talent in order to acquire Carter. If anything, losing two first-round draft picks was more painful than losing an ailing Alonzo Mourning and two reserves. The Kidd-Carter years proved to be a worthy experiment but the teams didn’t have the championship pedigree, or a reliable post player.
When the team moved to Brooklyn, questionable decision making followed.
During the 2013 off-season, general manager Billy King concocted this wild idea that trading for an aging Paul Pierce and a brittle Kevin Garnett, whom only played 21 minutes per game his first season in Brooklyn, would propel the Nets to an immediate title contender.
Well, it turns out Jason Kidd isn’t Gregg Popovich or Erik Spoelstra. The Nets fell to Spoelstra’s club, 4-1, in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
In an era, where more teams are formed through trades as opposed to grooming home grown talent, the Nets are surely staying active but at what cost?