Nets start rebuilding, acquire Vince Carter

Posted: Sunday, December 19, 2004

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. —After dismantling the team in the summer and aggravating Jason Kidd, the New Jersey Nets began the job of rebuilding as well as repairing their relationship with their best player.

They started by acquiring five-time All-Star Vince Carter from the Toronto Raptors on Friday for center Alonzo Mourning, forwards Aaron Williams and Eric Williams, and two first-round draft picks.

While Kidd said Carter can ''change the look of not just the franchise, but the game,'' the Nets' star guard did not seem overjoyed with the deal.

''Business always gets in the way of basketball,'' he said. ''My job is to go out there and perform on the court and get some W's.''

Nets owner Bruce Ratner was a little more excited.

''Vince provides an immediate impact and gives our fans an electrifying team to watch every night,'' Ratner said. ''Most importantly, we are committed to winning.''

There were many who doubted that after the Nets sent All-Star forward Kenyon Martin to Denver in what was seen as a cost-saving move by the team's new owners. Shooting guard Kerry Kittles later was traded to the Clippers and well-liked Lucious Harris was released.

Kidd wasn't happy about those developments, but conceded the Nets are trying to improve the roster.

''You don't worry about what happened in the past,'' he said after Friday's 89-84 loss at Memphis. ''That's what the Nets are trying to do, and I'm trying to do the same thing.''

Martin, Kittles and Harris were key members of a team that went to the NBA Finals in 2002 and '03.

The moves not only decimated the team, they left Kidd hoping to be traded.

Carter and Richard Jefferson playing his wings might soften that approach, but Kidd wouldn't speculate on his future. ''I'm a Net until told otherwise,'' he said.

Coach Lawrence Frank was delighted to have Carter on his bench.

''He's one of those guys when his team gets the ball in his hands at the end of the game, as an opposing coach, it makes you nervous because he can get wherever he wants on the floor,'' Frank said.

The trade essentially sends three players over 30 to Canada for a 27-year-old who is among the league's best when healthy.

Carter, whose contract runs through the 2008 season, and the Williams' must pass physicals for the deal to become official. They have 48 hours to report to their new teams.

Mourning, who had a kidney transplant in December, does not have to pass a physical. Thorn isn't sure whether Mourning will report to the Raptors, but the deal is not contingent on that.

Carter comes to the Nets with career averages of 24.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.33 steals and 1.03 blocks in 403 games over seven NBA seasons.

Carter, who was in Indianapolis, was excited about the deal, said Thorn, adding the swingman probably won't play until Tuesday in Charlotte. Carter has been out with a strained left Achilles' tendon.

Thorn said the Nets still have a long way to go to make the playoffs, but that if they make the postseason they would be a formidable foe.

''I think it's a statement from ownership that they are willing to spend on a quality player,'' he said. ''We are not here to wait three or four years and hope our draft choices pan out.''

The two first-round draft picks the Nets sent to Toronto were acquired in the Martin deal. They were Philadelphia's first-round pick in 2005 and Denver's first round pick in 2006.

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