Sun, Dec 19, 2004 - Page 24 News List

New Jersey nets Raptors' Vince Carter

AMERICAN BASKETBALL The Nets sent Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and two first-round draft picks to the Raptors for Carter

AP , TORONTOAP, INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

Vince Carter jams against the Cavaliers in this Jan. 7, file photo. Carter was traded by the Raptors to the Nets on Friday for Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and a pair of first-round draft picks.

PHOTO: AP

Vince Carter wanted out of Toronto and got his wish Friday, getting traded to the Nets for three players and two No. 1 picks in a deal that immediately raised the question: Will Jason Kidd still want out of New Jersey?

Carter, a five-time All-Star, saw his production and popularity tumble in Toronto.

The Raptors had been exploring different trade options for weeks, though the Nets had not been one of the rumored destinations.

In New Jersey, the big question this season has been whether the Nets might take another step in their breakup and deal away the disgruntled Kidd after trading Kenyon Martin and Kerry Kittles in the offseason.

"I hope this changes his mind a little bit. I hope he will give it a chance and see where it goes from here," said Carter, Kidd's teammate on the 2000 US Olympic team.

Carter, out with a strained left Achilles' injury, will not be in uniform Sunday when the Nets play at Toronto.

Kidd, in Memphis with the Nets, sounded pleased by the trade but noncommittal about his future.

"I'm a Net until told otherwise," Kidd said. "I've always asked to be competitive, to put a competitive team out there, and that's what they're trying to do."

Mourning also was dissatisfied with the Nets' offseason moves and had asked for a trade. He appeared in 18 games while making a comeback from a kidney transplant, averaging 10.4 points and 7.1 rebounds.

Eric Williams had been starting at small forward for New Jersey, while Aaron Williams had dropped out of the Nets' rotation as a backup center.

All three former Nets will add much-needed size to the Raptors, who also received two of the first-round picks the Nets acquired from Denver in the Martin trade.

Carter earned the nicknames "Air Canada" and "Half-Man, Half-Amazing" for his high-flying dunks, which breathed life into a moribund franchise and made him easily the biggest star to play in Canada since the NBA expanded there 10 years ago.

He spent all six-plus years of his career in Toronto and leaves the Raptors as the franchise leader in 10 categories, including scoring, 3-pointers made and games started.

But his production has been on a slow decline since he averaged 27.6 points in 2000-2001 and brought the Raptors within one victory of a trip to the conference finals. Carter has become less aggressive, often settling for jumpers rather than driving the ball and drawing contact, and he has been unable to shake a reputation of being a ``soft'' player.

Carter's current averages of 15.9 points and 3.3 rebounds are career-lows, as is his field goal percentage of .411.

"The organization has been good to me and given me an opportunity to grow and make a name for myself," Carter said. "Where it went wrong? I don't know. I guess it just got to where it was time to move on."

Carter is headed to a Nets team that sorely missed the athleticism it lost when Martin left for Denver in the offseason. With Kidd healthy again and Richard Jefferson on one wing, New Jersey has a chance to return to the up-tempo style that made it one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

"Vince said it to me that sometimes we just need a change of scenery," Raptors general manager Rob Babcock said. "And this is probably a situation where it is the best thing for Vince and the best thing for us."

It seemed inevitable that Carter would be traded, but that didn't do much to soften the blow when the deal was announced.

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