Carter's time in Jersey wearing thin

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

It has been three years since New Jersey general manager Rod Thorn stuck it to then-Raptors GM Rob Babcock and stole Vince Carter for a has-been schmuck, two stiffs and two draft picks.

But guess what?

The Nets no longer are feeling particularly smug about the Carter trade.

Though he hasn't asked to be traded officially or launched a whine campaign like he did during his final few months in Toronto, it seems that Carter's act has worn thin in New Jersey and he looks to be on the way out, if not prior to this afternoon's NBA trade deadline, than almost certainly this summer.

Carter still is one of the biggest talents in the NBA, but he still takes too many nights off and his reputation as a pouter and one of the softest players in the league has not abated since he left the Raptors for the Nets.

Thorn deserves all the kudos in the world for securing Carter for so little on Dec.17, 2004, if only because the man still is a human highlight reel when he decides to attack the basket. He also sells tickets (which is a tall order in New Jersey). When Thorn acquired VC, who at one time was the most popular player in Raptors franchise history, it appeared as though the Jersey GM had put together a team that could make a challenge for an NBA championship, or, at the very least, the Eastern Conference title.

But Carter hasn't led the Nets to the promised land, and, in fact, the NBA's resident powderpuff hasn't even led the Nets past the second round of the playoffs.

There have been rumblings out of Jersey for over a year that Thorn would ship Carter and his big contract out if he had the chance (VC is on the books for three more seasons and about $62 million US). Now that Jason Kidd has been dealt to the Dallas Mavericks, it's obvious that the Nets have given up trying to win a title with this current roster and have switched to a rebuilding mode, with VC becoming very expendable.

Carter trade rumours were hot and heavy yesterday. One team that is said to be interested in trading for VC is the New York Knicks (apparently for Zach Randolph) which makes sense because the Knicks are known for making really dumb moves.

Diehard Raptors fans still are bitter about the Carter trade and VC still casts a long shadow over the Toronto franchise. He still is booed whenever he touches the ball on the Air Canada Centre floor and his name still is brought up (in vain) on local talk radio shows.

Toronto fans have a long memory, and Vinsanity never will be forgotten at the ACC. But at least Raptors fans can take some solace in the fact that Carter hasn't won a ring anywhere else, and probably never will, and the Raptors likely will go deeper in the playoffs this season than the Nets.

Carter is a player with Hall of Fame talents, who likely never will make it into the Hall. He didn't play in the all-star game this season, the first time he has missed the NBA's showcase game since 1999. He clearly is yesterday's hero.

RAPTORS EYE PIETRUS

The Raptors, meanwhile, also are working the phones in advance of this afternoon's trade deadline. There were rumblings last night that Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo has been talking with his Golden State Warriors counterpart, Chris Mullin, about sending Juan Dixon and Joey Graham to the Bay Area for swingman Mickael Pietrus.

The 6-foot-6 Pietrus certainly won't help the Raptors much in the rebounding department, the club's biggest need, but he is a slasher and a solid defender at the small forward position, and they definitely could use another defender. The Raptors sit fourth in the Eastern Conference and are a sure-bet to make the playoffs, but they are fighting for homecourt advantage, which could mean the difference in advancing past the first round.

A solid defender and a player of Pietrus' talents would go a long way to get them there. But Colangelo is not going to do anything hasty. He realizes that his team is a year or two away from challenging for an Eastern Conference title, so there's no point pulling the trigger on a trade that will only help the club this season.


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