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Vince Carter: The Expiring Contract That Isn't

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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.