Vince is a shadow of his former self

Suns guard Vince Carter drives toward the basket in Phoenix, Arizona no March 23, 2011. (RICK...

Suns guard Vince Carter drives toward the basket in Phoenix, Arizona no March 23, 2011. (RICK SCUTERI/Reuters)


, Last Updated: 2:59 PM ET

PHOENIX Vince Carter entered the NBAs stage in the shadows of a work stoppage.

Hell soon enter free agency under the same labour cloud.

In 1998, the Raptors became relevant with Carter as the cornerstone piece once the NBA and its player union struck a deal that featured a 30-game schedule.

Carter has now become borderline irrelevant, his game almost as messed up as the system that runs the business of basketball.

When he becomes a free agent, regardless of the system thats in place, its anyones guess where Carter ends up playing.

His scoring at a career low, his three-point shooting at a career low, Carter may be best suited as a role player coming off the bench next season.

In Tuesdays marathon thriller in L.A. against the Lakers, Carter missed 11 of his three-point attempts, went only 7-of-23 from the field and would post three rebounds in 40 minutes in Phoenixs devastating 139-137 triple-OT loss.

Carter could have won the game, but an open look wouldnt drop.

In contrast, Steve Nash, who hasnt lost to the Raptors in his last 17 games heading into Wednesday nights tip, be it with Dallas or Phoenix, dished off 20 assists against the Lakers and has now made 11 of his 14 three-point shots in his last three games.

Naturally, reporters in L.A. were lamenting the highly probable absence of a Lakers-Suns playoff meeting this spring and wondered aloud about Nashs future.

I plan on being here next year, Nash, who has one year left on his deal with the Suns, said. Who knows whats going to happen?

And who knows whats going to happen to Carter.