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Vince Carter: The Expiring Contract That Isn't

In several places around this site, members of the Orlando Pinstriped Post community have written that Orlando Magic guard Vince Carter has an expiring contract, which makes him a desirable trade chip as NBA teams look to cut costs before the next collective bargaining agreement arrives sometime next year, potentially after a lengthy lockout. For clarification's sake, we should note that Carter's contract doesn't expire next summer, nor is it a team option. It's what one might term as a "semi-expiring" deal. Yes, it can end next summer, but it'll come at a price.

Carter has a partially guaranteed deal for the 2011/12 season. If he is not waived before June 30, 2011, Carter's salary of $18.3 million becomes fully guaranteed; if he is waived by the above date, he pockets $4 million and becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The $4 million figure will stay on his team's cap for that year.

I assure you I'm not picking nits here; these distinctions are important. If the Magic elect to trade Carter, they'll likely have to include $3 million in cash--the maximum allowable amoun--in the bargain to cover most of Carter's guarantee, which is a fact to consider when trying to evaluate potential trade partners. Which ones wouldn't mind having to cover $1 million of Carter's guarantee? Would they demand another asset, such as a future draft pick, as further compensation?

Those details don't change the fact that Carter will almost assuredly become a free-agent next summer, as it's simply hard to imagine that any team is willing to pay him $18.3 million when it could simply pay him to go away. But the circumstances around the pending free agency merit attention. Can't overlook them, no matter how silly they might seem.