Multiple news outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel, are reporting that the Orlando Magic and the New Jersey Nets have agreed on a trade to bring 8-time All-Star Vince Carter to Orlando. In principle, the deal involves New Jersey sending Carter, who starred for nearby Daytona Mainland High School, and power forward Ryan Anderson to Orlando for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, and Courtney Lee. Anderson and Lee both just finished their rookie seasons. According to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, Carter's prohibitive contract means the Magic will likely be unable to re-sign Hedo Turkoglu this summer.
This is not the first time Orlando has pursued Carter at the expense of Turkoglu and a young shooting guard. At the 2007 trading deadline, Orlando ultimately rejected an offer of Carter for Turkoglu, Darko Milicic, and either Trevor Ariza or J.J. Redick. That price was too much to pay for a rental, as Carter could have left as a free agent at season's end.
The deal is not yet official, as the salaries do not match up exactly, but is expected to be finished tonight. Eddy and I were already scheduled to be guests of the Magic for tonight's NBA Draft. We'll be sure to talk to whomever we can, including GM Otis Smith, about this deal and any others the team makes tonight.
Without dipping too deeply into analysis, I'll say this much: the Magic's acquisition of Carter--their best perimeter scoring threat since his cousin, Tracy McGrady, wore Magic blue--is their way of pushing all their chips to the center of the table. Alston and Battie are Orlando's two biggest expiring contracts, and Lee is the team's best rookie since 2000 Rookie of the Year winner Mike Miller. Throw in the cost of not being able to re-sign Hedo, and it's without question the biggest trade in team history. Biggest gamble, too.
With that said, Carter is a proven scorer and a likely Hall-of-Famer, and he'll have a chance to finish his career playing for the closest thing he has to a hometown team. It's hard to argue against that. But if he doesn't retire with at least one championship ring, it will have been--and I'm sorry to say this--a waste.