Memphis Grizzlies Found Success with the Vince Carter Experiment

By: Christian Dudley (@ChristianDudley)

The Memphis Grizzlies have had numerous experiments with players whom were on their way out of the league, but none have been as successful as the Vince Carter signing.

 

When it comes to players finding short-term deals at the end of their NBA careers, the Memphis Grizzlies have typically had open arms. The Front Office sees the low-risk opportunity and has been eager to extend a hand.

In the summer of 2014, after a solid postseason with the Dallas Mavericks, legend Vince Carter did the unthinkable and chose to sign a three-year contract with the Grizzlies.

How was the result with "Vinsanity" different than management's decisions of the past?

Below, "Blu3 World Order" takes a look at a handful of past additions within the past decade the Memphis Grizzlies have brought into town, attempting to find big value in low-risk deals.

Antoine Walker, once a Boston Celtics fan favorite and an NBA World Champion with the Miami Heat, landed in Memphis in 2008 as part of the infamous Kevin Love-for-O.J. Mayo Draft transaction. The Grizz, along with many others in the NBA world, believed Mayo was the next greatest guard to enter the league. Additionally, having Walker as a seasoned veteran being thrown into the trade as filler was icing on the cake. However, the wheels had fallen off of the Walker train and he did not play a single game in the 2008-09 season and was bought out of his contract mid-season.

When it came to signing free-agent Darius Miles, the Memphis Grizzlies wanted to play with fire. If you do not remember, there was a big legal issue involving Miles and the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland did not have to pay their remaining balance on Miles' contract being as they thought he was medically unable to play again in the NBA. The Grizzlies took a flyer on D-Miles and he was able to contribute is small spurts of minutes, but had to "prove" they were signing him to actually play a contributing role rather than try to get one over on the Blazers. Memphis cost Portland $18 million in the process. In the 2008-09 season, Darius Miles saw minutes in 34 of 82 games -- averaging 8.8 minutes per contest. He posted 3.5 points and 1.7 rebounds on 48.5% shooting during his time as a Grizzly.

After missing the entire 2008-09 season, following being written off by the Indiana Pacers due to numerous off-court issues, the Grizzlies extended a hand to point guard Jamaal Tinsley in 2009-10. If anything, he was insurance for a young Grizz backcourt. However, appearing in just 38 games, it was clear that Tinsley was not his old self. Averaging 3.5 points and 2.8 assists was well off of his 11.9 points and 8.4 assists average he posted in his last real season with the Pacers. JT wound up falling out of the league again in 2010-11. This was a low-risk deal that essentially made no impact for Memphis.

After the Washington Wizards' locker room gun incidents had somewhat blow over, it was a P.R. nightmare for any team to have association with Gilbert Arenas. Then along came the age-related injuries, along with the monstrous final few years of his lucrative contract, which had the Orlando Magic paying him greater than $20 million per season AFTER they had waived him from their roster. 2011-12 was the final season in which Arenas suited up in the NBA. The Memphis Grizzlies signed him to a veteran's minimum contract for the 2011-12 season. Arenas was in a new position -- a reserve role -- for the Grizz, and his skills were not reminiscent of his prime self. The ability to produce a lights-out scoring barrage at any time had faded away, and he appeared in just 17 regular season games while in Memphis en route to season averages of 4.2 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game.

In perhaps the most infamous free-agency signing in the Memphis Grizzlies' team history, Allen Iverson donned a Grizz uniform for a very short amount of time. If anything, it wound up being more of a publicity stunt than an actual basketball move. Memphis is a small-market NBA club and considers it a rarity for big names to sign with them. In 2009, there were very few franchises willing to add AI. In a low-risk ($3 million for one year) move, the Grizz pulled the trigger. This brought one of the largest media audiences to Memphis that the team has still ever experienced. However, it became a distraction. He refused to be a substitution for a young Mike Conley. After just three regular season games played, Iverson and the Grizzlies came to an agreement to part ways. For once, Iverson was not "The Answer." Had it been five years earlier, it may have been a great addition -- but even then, AI would have not wanted to be in Memphis, a small market. Fortunately for Memphis, the Allen Iverson hubbub surely generated greater than $3 million in revenue, so not all was lost. Little did they know their best days were drawing near.

This brings us to Vince Carter, "Half-Man, Half-Amazing."

There were a lot of well wishes said to Carter following his decision to join Zach Randolph with the Sacramento Kings this offseason. Though most of those positive vibes were to think him for his dunks, three-pointers, and leadership/guidance spread throughout the locker room, one thing has not been touched on until now.

Vince Carter chose the Memphis Grizzlies. Of course Memphis had interest -- he was a productive scorer and shooter. He satisfied multiple areas that needed work in Memphis. But think about it...VC wanted to be in the 901. And this time, it was a successful free-agency signing.

Who would have thought a 40-year-old would have played a significant role with the Grizzlies? Though Year One was mediocre for Vince, his chemistry with the team only grew and his production increased, too. By the conclusion of his third year in Memphis, Carter was averaging 8.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and nearly one steal in 24.6 minutes per contest. Not to mention, he started 15 of the 73 games he appeared. This season included 112 made three-point baskets and 26 double-figure-scoring games. Vince assisted the club to eight Memphis playoff victories in the past three seasons. 

It should only be a few years until Vince Carter joins Allen Iverson as the only Memphis Grizzlies players to be named to the Hall-of-Fame. Though three games gives Iverson that association, Carter truly earned it.

Memphians, not only should we all be thanking Vince for his three years of service and production in a Grizzlies uniform, but we need to thank him for putting market size behind. He saw the greater good in the 901 and saw how he could boost Memphis to be a Western Conference threat.

Go Grizz!

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