HOUSTON – The Nets are playing the Mavericks on Wednesday night, facing their old captain Jason Kidd for just the third time since he forced a trade a year ago, and his name hardly came up yesterday, if it all. The talk was all about the Nets’ current captain.
Vince Carter has been the subject of trade rumors, and with the deadline for teams to make a deal coming at 3 p.m. Thursday, it’s crunch time. It’s possible he could be playing his final game as a Net in Dallas.
Carter spoke all about the reports and rumors at Monday’s practice and Tuesday’s shootaround. But he was tired of it by the end of the Nets’ 114-88 loss to the Rockets.
“I don’t want to talk about that,” Carter said. “There’s nothing to talk about really.”
You can’t blame him for saying enough is enough after all the questions he’s answered on the topic. You can’t go on any basketball website without seeing another team offering something for Carter or different players being mentioned for the Nets’ best player.
Just to recap, the Rockets, Spurs, Mavericks, Cavaliers and Blazers are among the teams the Nets have spoken to about Carter. They could get Ron Artest, Shane Battier, Carl Landry and Luther Head from Houston if both teams sign off. They could get a package from the Spurs featuring George Hill, Roger Mason, Bruce Bowen and Fabricio if they can agree, but so much has to happen for a 4-for-1 to get done.
The Nets could get Wally Szczerbiak from Cleveland. They could get Jerry Stackhouse, Brandon Bass and parts from Dallas. They could include the Blazers as a third team to make some of these deals work or deal straight up with Portland with Raef LeFrentz’s expiring contract the chip many teams are interested in.
Or there could be a team out there that no one is mentioning yet.
Or how about this crazy idea: the Nets do nothing.
Look, anything is possible at this point. It’s looking more and more like the Nets will stand pat, but they have time and they would like to do something – not necessarily with Carter, though.
Management likes Carter and knows his importance and value to the team. But the Nets would like to upgrade the small forward position, get another guard, more good young athletes, more draft picks, shave salary and all by 3 p.m. Thursday.
Last night wasn’t a good night for the Nets, though. Carter played great with 30 points on 11-of-21 shooting, and rookie Brook Lopez had 21 points and nine rebounds. But there was little good that came out of this game for the Nets.
They couldn’t control the dribble, couldn’t match the Rockets’ physicality and aggressiveness and were late to shooters all night. The result: the Nets were minus-26 on the boards, minus-14 on the offensive glass, and the three-point shooting was a joke.
The Nets were 9-of-15, which is great. But the Rockets hit 15 from deep, setting a season high.
“It’s tough,” Carter said. “It’s tough to win that way when you’re not guarding the ball, giving up threes, giving up so many rebounds. They beat us 16-2 in offensive rebounds. It was tough.”
Wednesday could be tough as well.
The Mavericks have owned the Nets at home, winning eight straight.
The Nets have to be prepared for the Mavericks having a payback mentality after they were crushed in New Jersey in December, when Devin Harris scored 41 points and the fans serenaded Dallas owner Mark Cuban with chants of “Thank you, Cuban.”
But it remains a secondary story about the Nets. Garnering all the headlines is where will Carter end up? We’re getting closer to knowing that answer. Carter probably can’t wait until it’s over, and all the questions, too.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)
HOUSTON — Hey, everybody. Welcome to our pre-trade-deadline chat. Glad you could join me for this unique event.
It’s unique because this was an internal chat about the Feb. 19 trade deadline, questions I came up with and answered in the 5 a.m. ride to the airport today, the long security line in Newark and the long flight here . So let’s get started.
Hey, you do a great job. But what I don’t understand is why the Nets would consider trading Vince Carter?
YES Insider: Thanks, AI. The reason the Nets are considering it is because they have to. They have to listen and see what they can get for him, especially since he’s 32 and has been healthy all season. If they wait, and he has a bad year next year, his trade value goes down. So they have to listen and see if something makes sense.
What would it take for them to trade Carter?
– So tired.
YES Insider: Ideally, so tired, the Nets would make a Jason Kidd-like deal: get a good, young player that can be an All-Star, some young players, draft picks and salary-cap flexibility. But deals like that don’t always happen. They’re actually very tough to do.
I’ve been reading about some 4-for-1 deals with the Spurs and another one with the Mavericks for Josh Howard and Jerry Stackhouse. Could they happen?
– So hungry
YES Insider: Look, So hungry, anything is possible, but neither of those is likely. With the first, the Nets would have to part with three players before they could do that deal. They’re either eating contracts or trading players for draft picks or doing both in order to get Roger Mason, George Hill, Bruce Bowen and Fabricio Oberto or Michael Finley – not easy and not smart. Maybe they include a third team. As for Howard for Carter, Keyon Dooling and Eduardo Najera, remember something: the Nets own the Mavericks’ No. 1 pick in 2010. They don’t help them and lessen the value of the pick.
Do you think Rod Thorn wants to trade Carter?
– Can’t wait for the deadline to be over
YES Insider: I don’t think he does, deadline watcher. Just like I didn’t think Thorn wanted to trade Kidd before he asked out and made the Nets miserable. But he has to listen. In the end, I think Thorn is a smart man who cares about his legacy. He was the guy who drafted Michael Jordan, made the Nets relevant and a power by trading for Kidd, Richard Jefferson, Carter and eventually moving Kidd for Devin Harris. Thorn isn’t going to want to make a trade that makes him look bad. Thorn survived the Kenyon Martin deal for three draft picks, made necessary by ownership, by turning those picks into Carter. If Thorn does something, it’s doubtful cap space will be the reason, again, unless it’s ownership’s edict. He’s not giving Carter away.
What will the fan reactioncbe if they move Carter?
– Should have stayed an accountant
YES Insider: The fans won’t be happy, accountant, especially if he’s moved for a young player or two and salary filler/expiring contracts. This team already flaunts their alleged move to Brooklyn every chance they get and have lost fans because of that. There will be no one left. If the Nets did something with Carter, that means they traded Kidd, Jefferson and Carter in the same year. The fans would go with them.
We keep talking about Carter. What about the other Nets? Who stays and who goes?
– Still tired
YES Insider: Other than Brook Lopez and Devin Harris, all the Nets are fair game, sleepy. They also would like to hang on to Yi Jianlian. But I think the Nets want to do something. It just comes to whether they can find a deal that makes sense. They don’t want any bad contracts in return, add any payroll or take back someone else’s problem.
Back to Carter, how do you think his teammates would react if he’s moved?
– Hungry no more
YES Insider: I don’t think they would be happy, full guy. He has meant so much to them from a leadership and belief standpoint. He has been the biggest pusher of the Nets quieting the critics and being a playoff team. They have followed him, and if he’s gone, it would send a bad message to the young guys as well as the veterans who believed and wanted to see some playoff shares.
Everyone talks about money in either 2009 but mostly 2010. The Nets may have money, but does it guarantee they get anyone?
– Anthony’s dad
YES Insider: Of course not, proud papa. There is a cautionary tale to be learned from the Bulls and pre-Joe Johnson Hawks that if you have all the money in the world and your team stinks, it doesn’t mean players will come there. The Nets have to show they have something first to intrigue people and they’re not as good without Carter as they are with him. There also are no guarantees that if the Nets have all the money in the world that they’ll be able to spend it.
Thanks. Let’s do this again sometime.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.).