Vince Carter is still the player best associated to the Toronto Raptors organization. With his career winding down, the Raptors should honor that.
Vince Carter is a dinosaur by NBA standards.
Much has been made about how the new member of the Atlanta Hawks has been in the NBA just as long as new teammate Trae Young has been on planet Earth.
At this point, it’s hard for even ardent NBA fans to track Carter’s career arc to this point.
Eight NBA teams. Eight All-Star appearances. One Rookie of the Year award. One Slam Dunk Contest championship.
And it all started north of the border.
It’s safe to say “Vinsanity” is closer to the end of his career than the beginning as he embarks on a mind-blowing 21st season in the league.
Everyone wants to know what the endgame is with his playing career, though.
There’s a decent chance he calls it a career after this season. Carter will be 42 years old when the season ends. It’s a young man’s game, evidenced by the adoration Carter receives every time he lifts his legs and shocks fans with a dunk.
If he doesn’t call it quits after 2018-19, he shouldn’t end his career in Atlanta. He should end it in Toronto, where it began.
The easy argument to make on behalf of the move is the nostalgia factor. Carter played for the Toronto Raptors before Y2K even hit. The high-flyer resonated more with the fans than the stars to come after, including Chris Bosh, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
There would be a utilitarian use for Carter on these Raptors as well, though.
It’s clear that Carter relishes the opportunity to mentor younger guys in the league. He hasn’t come close to joining the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets in pursuit of a championship, after all. Instead, he’s made his way on to young, developing teams like the Sacramento Kings and the aforementioned Hawks.
The Raptors certainly have some veterans on their roster already, namely Lowry and Kawhi Leonard (who may be gone by this time next year). But they also have some young players in need of mentorship, including Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam.
That would create a space for Carter, who would probably be willing to join on the veteran’s minimum.
When Carter was dealt away from the Raptors in 2004, there were hard feelings all around. Even by today’s standards, there was some acrimony, with fans showering Carter with boos each time he returned to Toronto.
Those ill feelings began to dissipate 10 years later, when the franchise played a video tribute in honor of a visibly emotional Carter during a Memphis Grizzlies game in Toronto.
At this point, a reunion between Carter and Toronto would bring out more butterflies than boo-birds.
After the unceremonious dumping of DeRozan this offseason, Masai Ujiri and the Raptors need to take some steps to mend fences with the fans.
It makes too much sense to reunite Vince Carter with his first franchise.