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NBA Free Agency 2017: the Mavericks should bring back Vince Carter

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Dooooooo it.

Dallas Mavericks v San Antonio Spurs - Game Seven Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images

Hear me out. Let the old men ride out their final years together.

Because honestly, why not? The Mavs are very weak at the wings, and Vince Carter is a known quantity at this point. He’ll play 15 minutes or so, average around 5-10 points, and have a couple of nights where he drops in 20 or so. He’s a beloved NBA legend who has an established rapport with Rick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki, and he’s not going to get in the way of any development by the youngsters.

For the right price, he’s damn near perfect.

The basics

Vince Carter is a 21-year NBA veteran who has morphed from a hyper-athletic dunker, to go-to all-star scorer, to grizzled veteran shooter. He’s most famous for his Toronto “Half Man, Half Amazing” years early in his career, but here in Dallas he’s most famous for 2014’s Game 3 buzzer beater:

Vince played 3 seasons in Dallas, from 2011 to 2014, and averaged 12 points, 2 assists, and nearly 4 rebounds a game in a key bench role. Since then, he’s been serving essentially the same role in Memphis, to a slightly lesser degree. Last year, at age 40, he played 24.6 minutes a game, averaging 8, 1.8 and 3.1.

Strengths

At this stage in his career, Vince’s greatest strength is his experience and his locker room presence. He can come in and soak up some minutes for a mediocre-to-bad team, but that’s not why you want to offer him a contract. Ultimately, the best thing he brings to a basketball team is his 21 years of experience. He’s been around, and he’s in a great place to impart some wisdom on a roster of youngsters looking to learn from the guy who dunked all over that tall French guy that one time.

And the baffling thing is that he might still have a little to contribute on the court as well. He averaged 37 percent from three last year on 4 attempts per game, and he gave an injury-depleted roster over 24 minutes a game. His overall numbers aren’t anything spectacular, but he can still play and be effective in short bursts.

Plus he’s a fun guy who in his later years has been an all-around good teammate and positive locker room presence.

Weaknesses

When January 2018 rolls around, Vince Carter will turn 41. He is already the 17th oldest player to ever play in the NBA, and by the end of next season, he’ll be in the top ten. To his credit, he hasn’t really had too much trouble with injury despite his age, but still. He is very old.

He’s bound to decline at some point, and he was already averaging only 8 points a game despite playing over 24 minutes. He is also a legend, and even at 40 years old, he may demand a pretty hefty 2-year contract that outweighs his actual production.

Fit with the Mavericks

He is basically perfect, if you ask me. The only backup wings on the roster currently are Dorian Finney-Smith and Nicolas Brussino. Wing is the most important position in the NBA these days, and you’re looking at Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, and a couple of undrafted free agent second-year scrubs.

(Personally, I love DFS and Nico, please don’t take this the wrong way—they are wonderful, but have a long way to go to prove that they are NBA players.)

Vince can give the Mavs 10-15 minutes off the bench of reliable, if unspectacular, play. He’s also at a point in his career where he isn’t looking to hog the spotlight or fight for playing time or position. He’s just a middle-aged, fun-loving guy who loves basketball and isn’t ready to go home yet. He can help the team play fun basketball while mentoring the younger guys on the roster.

Even better, he is familiar with Rick Carlisle’s system and has earned both his and Dirk’s trust. Wouldn’t you love to see Dirk mimic Vince’s motorcycle wheelie motion after one last old man dunk? Wouldn’t you give anything to see that one last time??

He says he wants to play another year or two, and dammit, the Mavs should help him do so as long as he wants to. Let him and Dirk ride out into the sunset together. They deserve it. We deserve it. It’s a win for everyone.