It may be getting cold outside, but Vince Carter appears to be warming to the idea of playing in Toronto this season.
Carter, who demanded to be traded during the off-season, said at Raptors media day yesterday that he will not pout if the club fails to trade him, nor will he allow himself to become a distraction.
"I'm going to bust my (butt) every day for the Toronto Raptors until that jersey says something else," Carter told a media horde. "That's where I am.
"My job is to perform and lead this team. I'm not coming here to be a distraction. I'm not coming here to cause controversy. I'm just a person (who) had some things on my chest that I wanted to say. I said it and it's over."
Carter was feisty and at times testy with reporters, expressing annoyance that there was some question as to whether he would even show up for training camp, which begins this morning at Brock University in St. Catharines.
"Why would there have been?" he said. "I'm here, so that means I'm happy to be here. If I didn't want to be, I wouldn't have shown up -- plain and simple.
"Your questions are ridiculous, y'all ask crazy questions. Why wouldn't I be here? I'm an NBA player. I get paid to play. What's done is done. We move on."
Actually, the Carter controversy promises not to die soon. It remains to be seen whether the five-time all-star will live up to his word and not pout this season if general manager Rob Babcock does not pull the trigger on a trade.
As well, Carter's hopes of being traded may magnify when the regular season opens on Nov. 3 at the Air Canada Centre and the crowds boo him.
Carter repeated yesterday that his wish for a trade is not a slight against Toronto or the fans. It's just that, after two seasons of missing the playoffs, the 27-year-old forward/guard wants a chance to win a title. As well, there's the uncertainty of a third coach in three years to deal with.
"That's one of the toughest things and that's where the frustration comes from," he said. "It's like when you get a new boss every year, you have to start over. We're always a step behind."
Still, Carter believes that, if the team remains healthy, a playoff spot is possible in the realigned Eastern Conference.
"I was told that we were projected to be second last in the East, so that's enough motivation right there," he said. "It doesn't matter what we look like on paper, we just have to believe it and not be afraid of talking about how good we can be. That's something that I think that we're lacking -- believing in ourselves and not going by what you guys think."
Carter was married in the off-season and vowed not to let problems with the team get him down, although he did make a plea for a little understanding from the fans.
"I'd pay money to let everybody have a day in my shoes -- a couple of hours," he said. "You'll look at things differently, I'm sure. But you know what? That's okay. I'll keep my own shoes."