Here’s why the trade for Vince Carter was a good one


The Magic’s decision to acquire Vince Carter has certainly been greeted with a mixed reaction from Magic fans. Some love it, some hate it — and there really is no in between. Personally, I love it. Here are five reasons why. 1. He wants to be here. Carter, who went to high school in Daytona Beach, said coming home to play in Orlando is a “dream come true.” I know that’s one of those things players say, but with Carter it really is true. He wanted to come to Orlando when he was a free agent in 2007, when the Magic spent their free-agent cash on Rashard Lewis. Now, out of nowhere, he’s going to be playing in front of his friends and family every night. “It’s a big deal for me,” Carter said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity. I’ve done so much for my community back in Daytona Beach and my high school coach, when he heard it, was excited. It just blows my mind.” Added Carter, who was at a basketball camp in Daytona Beach when he heard the news: “I am excited, proud and just ready to represent my hometown well.” Carter’s been associated with terms like cancer and headcase before, but he’s never been in this good of a situation. He’s on a young, talented team that just went to the NBA Finals and plays 30 minutes from his childhood home. How can you beat that? 2. Carter won’t be penalized for taking shots. Carter is not shy about shooting. He’s a guy who will fire away if he has any room, even when he’s missing a lot of his shots. In the past, his tendency to attack the basket has gotten him in hot water with his coaches, teammates and fans alike. But Stan Van Gundy’s system is renowned for not penalizing players for shooting. It’s a big reason Hedo Turkoglu transformed into a playmaker when Van Gundy came aboard — he was no longer looking over his shoulder when his shots weren’t falling. I believe Carter will succeed in similar fashion. Van Gundy won’t be shy about giving Carter the ball. “With Vince, you can give him the ball anywhere on the floor and he can isolate and create a shot either for himself or for a teammate on his own,” Van Gundy said. “Plus, if you look at the numbers like we do all the time… Vince has been, throughout his career, one of the best fourth quarter and end-of-game guys in this league, in terms of production. He’s been a guy that has always come through down the stretch in games.” 3. It proves the Magic want to win now… and they’re going to make sure of it. Otis Smith could’ve waited around, threw a couple convenient offers to Hedo Turkoglu and watched him take more money elsewhere. That would’ve been easy, and nobody would’ve blamed Smith for letting Turk walk away for a huge contract. But instead of being reactive, Smith and Co. were proactive. They didn’t want to be in a position where they have to “explain ourselves to everybody,” Stan Van Gundy said. They put their fate into their own hands, dealing for a dynamic offensive player who is the best scorer in an Orlando Magic uniform since Carter’s cousin, Tracy McGrady. While many teams tread water with deadbeat GMs and uncommitted owners, the Magic are run by people who really want to see this team win. Even if the Magic can’t sign Turkoglu – it will be hard, Smith said – it’s awesome to see the Orlando brass out there making things happen. 4. Defense will be forced out of Carter. Most of the trade’s naysayers point to Carter’s supposed lack of defensive competence. But look at Orlando’s roster last season. Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson were considered humongous defensive liabilities early in their career. Alongside Dwight Howard and underneath Van Gundy, they’ve became part of the best defensive unit in the NBA. A lot of that success can be attributed to Van Gundy’s constant barking, sweating and moaning. Some of it can be attributed to team chemistry. Whatever the reason, Orlando’s players are clearly squeezing every drop of defensive juice out of themselves. “We’ve got a team of very good offensive players who have to be willing to make the commitment on the defensive end of the floor,” Van Gundy said. 5. There’s a clear starting lineup, and the Magic are guaranteed an offensive catalyst. There’ll be no more waffling between Redick and Lee, Lee and Pietrus, Pietrus and Redick. There will be no more wondering which guard will play during crunch time. There won’t be any yanking of minutes or unexpected playing time. As it stands, there will be a clear-cut starting and ending five for the Magic. The collection of Nelson-Carter-Turkoglu/Pietrus-Lewis-Howard will see all of the important minutes. It sounds trivial, but the inflation and deflation of minutes can have an effect on players’ psyche and chemistry. Carter may not pose the unique matchup problems that Turkoglu does, but he’s undoubtedly a superior offensive threat compared to Turkoglu. In addition to his ability to create in isolation, Carter is exceptional and driving through the lane and working off of pick-and-rolls. For his career, Carter is averaging 23.5 points and 4.7 assists, and he’s never been surrounded by as much talent as he will be in Orlando. Seriously, I love the trade. Regardless of what happens over the next few months, I can’t wait to see Carter in an Orlando uniform.