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Fact or Fiction presents both sides of key issues the Orlando Magic will face in the upcoming season.
Vince Carter’s expiring contract is the Magic’s best opportunity to upgrade the wing position with a high-quality player (go-to guy) for the future.
The off-season is nearly over for the Orlando Magic and the rest of the NBA, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t any drama along the way. After the Magic lost to the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, the rumor mill began to heat up concerning Vince Carter‘s future with the team after his lackluster performance in the series.
In late June, word broke out that Chris Paul was open to being traded as long as he got a chance to win and soon after, there was a report that Orlando offered Carter in a trade alongside Jameer Nelson for the all-world point guard. And when Carmelo Anthony indicated his desire to leave the Denver Nuggets nearly a month ago, the Magic were initially listed as a team of interest. Even though Carter’s name wasn’t explicitly brought up in any trade scenarios, it was assumed that he could be dealt since he would be replaced by Anthony at one of the wing positions.
Why all the chatter about Carter?
Because Carter has, more or less, an expiring contract. It’s important to note that Carter’s contract in 2012 is guaranteed for $4 million if he’s waived before June 30, 2011. Even though it’s not a purely expiring contract, there’s no question that any team acquiring Carter in a deal would save a chunk of money.
It’s clear that Carter has value and could be a trade chip for Orlando at the deadline, if general manager Otis Smith wants to explore the possibility.
But is Carter, alone, enough to land a high-quality player?
It doesn’t appear so. Carter is 33 and slowly declining, as the numbers show. It would be highly unlikely that the Magic would be able to swap Carter for a better player in a one-on-one trade, because the financial savings wouldn’t be enough to merit that type of move for a team.
The only way, it appears, for Orlando to upgrade at the wing position — if they choose to take that route — is to package Carter in a deal involving other players and/or draft picks. Yes, there was the rumored Carter-for-Arenas trade a while back with the Washington Wizards but that’s not an upgrade for the Magic.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Carter. After this season, Orlando could waive Carter but that would do nothing more than push the ledger closer to the luxury tax threshold. In other words, the Magic would be unable to utilize the money being freed up with Carter’s release because they’re over the salary cap.
It would behoove Smith not to trade Carter at some point in time, but it’s a long year and anything can happen.
This is a cut-and-dry answer.