Vince setting up Nets for heartbreak

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:11 AM ET

Two Raptors reporters got laughing yesterday as they related the Vince Carter trade to an episode of the animated sitcom King of the Hill. Boomhauer, the ladies man, gets his heart broken. After an undignified period of mourning, he slips into his sportscar and is pulling out of his driveway, presumably in search of some lovin'.

Dale Gribble looks on admiringly and says: "Boomhauer is going to make some young woman very happy -- then very, very sad."

So how does that pertain to Carter? He is going to make the New Jersey Nets very happy. Then very, very sad.

Indeed, Carter may go through a renaissance period with his new team after getting traded from the Raptors to the Nets on Friday for Eric Williams, Aaron Williams, Alonzo Mourning and two first-round draft picks. But a year from now, or two years from now, or three years from now, we are betting Carter looks far more like the Carter of 2004 than the Carter of 2000.

His body isn't suddenly going to get healthier. He isn't going to get three years younger. His work ethic may improve in the short term, but are you actually confident it will improve in the long term?

Reaction to the trade around the NBA yesterday was fairly critical of what the Raptors had received (two quasi-serviceable veterans, an ex-star who probably never will play here and some faceless draft picks).

But in Toronto, where the Vince of today is clear in everyone's minds, reaction was split down the middle. Some fans simply were thrilled to be free of Carter. Others thought Babcock should have procured more.

Even Raptors guard Jalen Rose weighed in on the subject, although he had a big smile on his face when he said: "I'm a GM in fantasy basketball and football, and I'm a GM on PlayStation, and I probably would have got a little more (for Carter). But this is real life, so I don't know."

Joking or not, the normally mild-mannered Babcock flashed some fire when asked to respond to his numerous critics.

"Um, they need to get my job and see what they can do," Babcock said. "A player's value is what his value is right now. It's not what his value was five years ago. And his value may be higher in two years.

"Ever since last summer when Vince came out and said he wanted to be traded, that makes it a difficult situation, right from the beginning. But that's the situation we had.

"Vince is going to New Jersey and I expect him to do well there. He may average 25 points a game. But he wasn't averaging 25 for us."

Therein lies the crux of the issue.

"With the style (Carter) played in the past, it was a difficult adjustment for him playing the style (Raptors coach Sam Mitchell) is trying to develop," Babcock said. "Vince did an excellent job trying to learn that style. He did not complain once to any of us about not getting enough shots. Some games he didn't even get to double-figures in shots and I didn't hear any complaints.

"But it just wasn't working, and with all the distractions and everything else, sometimes it's better to split and move on."

This still may turn out to be a disastrous trade for the Raptors. Babcock could have the same success with the draft picks that he had when he selected Rafael Araujo eighth-overall last June. Mourning likely will be reduced to a bookkeeping note. The Williamses may get nicknamed the Williams Sisters, and not in a good tennis way.

Vince is talented enough to go on to great things, but to be blunt, we doubt he will. A leopard can mask his spots for a while, but he can't change them.

Very happy. Then very, very sad. Like Boomhauer, these are the emotions Vince elicits.


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