As the Utah Jazz continue to pursue vets to round out their roster, the legendary Vince Carter could be a perfect fit for the squad.
The Utah Jazz have already absolutely knocked it out of the park this offseason. After trading for Mike Conley, which many supposed would be their main and perhaps only flashy move, they went on to sign Bojan Bogdanovic in free agency, along with Ed Davis at the room exception level, Jeff Green, a savvy vet on a minimum contract, and Emmanuel Mudiay, a low-risk, high-reward player also on a minimum.
But the Jazz are likely still scouring the market looking for the perfect additional fits to round out their roster. Free agency has largely been in a holding pattern as superstar Kawhi Leonard made his decision about where to play next season, but now that such is resolved and he’s chosen the LA Clippers, we should see a floodgate of signings open up from here.
And while Utah can only add guys on minimum contracts at this point, there’s plenty of talent to be found at that level. On Friday night while watching Summer League action, a particularly well-known vet jumped out at me as perhaps an ideal addition as he interviewed alongside Donovan Mitchell with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. The man I speak of is none other than the legend Vince Carter.
Of course, at 42 years old, Vince is far from the high-flying, ultra-athlete that he once was, but he can definitely still ball. Last year he put up 15.2 points per 36 minutes and converted on his threes at an efficient 38.9 percent clip. His shooting is still deemed a threat and that additional lift from the perimeter is definitely something the Jazz continue seeking.
Not only that, but forget Carter’s abilities on the floor for one moment, and just imagine what his brilliant basketball mind and lengthy NBA experience could bring to Utah’s locker room and playoff mentality. Sure, he’s not the player he once was that averaged well over 25 points per game on a consistent basis and can’t play the same minutes he formerly did, but he’s still an exceptional talent, leader and example to have on a squad.
And a few things about his potential fit in Utah really stood out to me on Friday night when he appeared at Summer League with Donovan Mitchell. First off, we already know that he and Mitchell have at least a reasonably solid relationship. They alluded to as much in the segment (which you can see in its entirety via the tweet below) and, of course, Mitchell wore a throw-back Carter Toronto Raptors jersey in his Dunk Contest-winning performance in 2018.
Mitchell also mentioned that Vince is someone whose brain he has picked and who he has spoken with about ways to enhance his game and lengthen his career. Furthermore, Carter is a former teammate of one of the newest Jazzmen Mike Conley as they played together during Vince’s time in Memphis. Carter had nothing but praise to heap upon the new Jazz point guard, and the two obviously had a good relationship together.
Combine all of these tidbits with things we already know – Vince wants to play for a contending team in his final year in the NBA and he wants to have a chance to actually play meaningful minutes – and a pairing with the Jazz could really make sense. Utah has shown no aversion to playing vets who can contribute such as Joe Johnson and Thabo Sefolosha, and after all the moves Utah has made this summer, they certainly could be in the title mix. That would seem to check both of Carter’s boxes.
What a great opportunity it would be for Vince if he were able to end his career playing alongside a young friend that he could mentor in Donovan Mitchell while also competing for a championship. It’d be hard to match that kind of well-rounded experience to wrap up an incredible career.
Originally I thought that if Leonard returned to Toronto, the place where it all began in the NBA for Vince, joining their ranks to attempt to win a ring there would be pretty exciting and enticing. Now perhaps a squad like the Los Angeles Lakers or LA Clippers might seem like the most exciting for him to go to. Carter has made it clear that chasing a ring is far from his only consideration, though. So even if the Jazz aren’t the ‘favorite’ in the West, if they’re able to create Carter’s ‘favorite’ situation, they may be able to lure him in.
There’s still a lot to resolve this summer and it’s entirely possible that Utah isn’t on Carter’s radar or that Carter isn’t on Utah’s radar. However, a connection was definitely apparent between he and Mitchell on Friday, and in terms of what he would bring to the Jazz and his already strong chemistry with Conley, adding him as the latest splash signing during Utah’s incredible offseason feels like a logical and rock-solid move.
The Jazz have already done more this offseason and excelled in a far greater fashion than I would have ever predicted. Why not continue that trend yet again by adding the legendary (and still contributing) Vince Carter into the fold?