Memphis Grizzlies guard Vince Carter is 39 years old but doesn’t seem to want to give up a game that he has played for professionally for the past 18 years.
Fred Kerber of the New York Post reports that Carter wants to play at least two more years.
#Grizzlies Vince Carter, one of all-time good guys, won Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award. Sed he wants to play two more years— Fred Kerber (@FredKerber) June 8, 2016
The Twyman-Stokes Award recognized Carter for his selfless play, leadership both on and off the court, as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and his commitment and dedication to his team. He was chosen from a pool of over 300 NBA players who submitted their votes through confidential balloting conducted by the league according to the NBA website. The NBA will make a $25,000 donation to Carter’s Embassy of Hope Foundation for winning the award.
The award was named after Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes, former teammates with the Rochester/ Cincinnati Royals who displayed a life-long friendship long after their playing days were over. Chauncey Billups (2013), Shane Battier (2014), and Tim Duncan (2015) previously won the award.
Carter is an eight-time NBA All-Star and the 2000 Slam Dunk Champion. The 6-foot-6 wing has spent the last four years in a reserve role, including the last two seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies. Carter averaged 6.6 points and 2.4 rebounds while averaging 16.8 minutes in 60 games last year. He shot 38.8 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Carter increased his production to 11.3 points and 3.8 rebounds during the playoffs as he shot 45.5 percent from the field and 70.0 percent from beyond the arc.
The question is, if Carter does play two more years, will it be with the Memphis Grizzlies?
Carter currently has a partially guaranteed contract with the Grizzlies for the 2016-17 season. Carter is guaranteed $2 million of his $4.26 million contract regardless of whether he plays the entire season with the club – his salary doesn’t become fully guaranteed until January 1, 2017, per Basketball Insiders. Carter is slated to be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2017.
Memphis, the 6th oldest team in the NBA last year with an average age of 28.6, dealt with several injuries to key players. The Grizzlies used an NBA record 28 players but still reached the playoffs for the sixth straight season with a 42-40 record. The Griz were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Memphis has a new coach in David Fizdale and has plenty of decisions to make. Currently, the Grizzlies have $47.65 million guaranteed to six players – Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Brandan Wright, Tony Allen, Jordan Adams, and Jarrell Martin. JaMychal Green possesses a non-guaranteed contract worth $980,431 with $200,000 becoming guaranteed on July 11 while the Griz own team options on Lance Stephenson ($9.4 million) and Xavier Munford ($874,634).
Memphis most assuredly will keep Green and Munford as low-cost options. Green, 25, had a breakout campaign, producing seven double-doubles and 7.4 points to go along with 4.8 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game. Munford, who was a late season addition, averaged 5.7 points while shooting 41.6 percent from the floor and 39.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Memphis’ first major decision to make is whether they should or should not pick up Stephenson’s option. Stephenson’s production in his 26 games with the Grizzlies was in line with his best season in 2013. The 25-year-old averaged 14.2 points and 4.4 rebounds as he shot 47.4 percent from the floor and 35.5 percent from beyond the arc. The Grizzlies have until June 29 to decide what to do.
The day after Stephenson’s decision day, the Griz will have to decide whether it is worth to tender point guard Bryce Cotton a contract at $1.18 million. The 23-year-old appeared in eight games for the Grizzlies, averaging 1.0 point in 4.9 minutes. He struggled in his eight-game stint with the Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns last year, so it is unlikely he is tendered. Cotton would be a restricted free agent, if tendered.
If Memphis does pick up Stephenson’s option and keep Green as well as Munford, the Griz cap would be around $60 million – meaning they would have roughly $32 million to spend on free agents.
Mike Conley, Chris Anderson, Matt Barnes, and P.J. Hairston are the Griz’s unrestricted free agents. Re-signing Mike Conley is Memphis’ top priority. The Griz are the favorites to land the point guard but Steve Kyler of Basketball Insider reports that Conley wants to see signs that Memphis is serious about fortifying its roster with other pieces before committing to the team for the long term. New York and Houston are expected to pursue Conley heavily and Kyler listed San Antonio as a team to keep an eye on.
Barnes, Anderson, and Hairston all could be back in Memphis, if they don’t cost a lot. Barnes was durable and productive last season while Anderson brings rebounding and toughness. Hairston is the least likely of the three to return as he has struggled in his first two years. The 23-year-old averages 6.0 points while shooting 34.3 percent from the field and 29.5 percent from beyond the arc for his career. Like Conley, Memphis owns Barnes and Anderson’s Bird’s rights.
The Grizzlies do need to get younger and if they go that route, don’t expect to see Anderson, Barnes, or Carter in a Grizzlies uniform. The Griz may also attempt to trade Zach Randolph, who has a year left on his contract.
Memphis has three draft picks in this year’s draft. The Grizzlies own the No. 17, No. 52, and No.57 picks.
Memphis’ major need is a backup point guard and wings who can score. The Griz could also use young players in the frontcourt. Chad Ford of ESPN has the Grizzlies taking Bosnian center Ivica Zubac with the 15th overall pick.
Zubic is huge, standing at 7-foot-1 and possessing a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He has the ability to score in the low-post as he has soft hands as well as excellent footwork. The 19-year-old is not a great rebounder or shot-blocker.
[Photo by Eric Gay/AP Images]