At 41-years-old, Vince Carter is the oldest active player in the NBA. However, he is an odd case. We have seen many players before who can just never hang up their cleats. However, a lot of these players are chasing for championships later in their careers. Think of David West as an example, who took the veteran’s minimum to join the Golden State Warriors in recent years. Instead, Vince Carter is spending the waning years of his career on rebuilding teams. Why?
Let’s backtrack first. Carter played his college ball at UNC and was selected fifth overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 1998 NBA Draft but was traded for his college teammate and fourth overall pick, Antawn Jamison. Jamison went on to have a great career, but not like Carter’s, as he immediately won the Rookie of the Year Award, and never looked back. His dunking ability and athleticism was second to none.
Carter had many stops along the way to becoming an 8-time All-Star. During his time with the Dallas Mavericks, in the 2012-13, father time finally caught up with Carter at age 36. He had to embrace a bench role in best order to help a team that was fighting hard in the Western Conference. Carter embraced this role and offered the same veteran presence for a Memphis Grizzlies team for three years that grinded every night.
His recent stops with the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks show that Carter has fully embraced the veteran role. Odds are the Hawks were not the only team that would give the veteran a chance. He still has some ability as far as the vet’s minimum is concerned. On the court, we have seen him guide Trae Young when there have been exchanges of words early in the season. The young players must know there is a lot to learn from Carter, and there is a reason why Travis Schlenk brought him in.
Given the recent trend of recently retired players becoming head coaches in the NBA, Carter’s basketball IQ, and the way he has embraced guiding younger players, my prediction is that Carter takes a shot at becoming an NBA head coach down the road. Maybe I am wrong, but it is clear that he is not ready to let go of playing the game he loves, and this could be the second-best thing.
One thing is for sure: if this is Carter’s last ride, it is great that it will be with the Hawks. What a great career.