PHOENIX — 11 days after trading away its leading scorer in Jason Richardson, Phoenix is about to get back some of the departed offense.
Hello, Vince Carter.
Hampered by a nagging knee injury, Carter hasn’t played since Dec. 14 when he dropped 18 in Denver for the Magic.
Fast forward more than two weeks and one blockbuster trade later and the 33-year-old is expected to make his Suns debut at home Wednesday against Philadelphia.
“As of right now, he will [play],” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “He’ll have to go back tonight and see if there is any swelling or anything but he was really enthusiastic about it this morning when he came in so I think he’ll be ready to go [Wednesday].”
Carter participated in a full-court scrimmage Tuesday for the first time since joining the team.
“It felt good; the first couple minutes were a little rough, I got winded quickly but once I got out there more it went OK,” Carter said. “As far as pain goes, they wouldn’t put me out there if I wasn’t comfortable.”
Although Gentry left open the possibility of Carter’s knee feeling worse Wednesday, he said he liked what he saw from the swingman’s performance in practice.
“I thought he looked OK, obviously it was his first time out but the talent level there is pretty special,” Gentry said. “We’ll get him out there and see how long he can go and put him in some situations, but we’re excited about having him. I think he’s going to eventually be everything we thought he would be.”
The Suns have lost three straight but get a small break in the schedule over the next week playing three sub-.500 teams in the 76ers, Pistons and Kings.
Although Carter has been an active voice at practice, the veteran said he still needs live action to fully transition into the Phoenix offense.
“[While on the bench] you get the concept of it but it’s nothing like going out there and actually doing it,” Carter said. “There are so many options if something is taken away. I’m one of those guys who asks a lot of questions, not only to help myself but to help [make] the other new guys’ transition easier, too.”
The last time Carter was traded midseason was in 2004-05 when he went from the Raptors to the Nets.
“When I first got to New Jersey it took a little while because that offense was very hard to pick up,” he said. “Here it’s a little different, a little more free-flowing, so it really helps. Once you get the basic concepts, everything else falls into place.”
The Suns hope that by week’s end Carter will have three games under his belt as a Sun before facing the Lakers and Knicks in consecutive games.
“I’ve always prided myself in not only learning the offense but understanding the ins and outs of it as well,” he said. “I guess it’s a Carolina thing. Grant [Hill] doesn’t know about that.”