Friday Flashback: Let’s remember Vince Carter’s solo season with the Phoenix Suns

Vince Carter, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Vince Carter, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Carter played one season with the Phoenix Suns, who were hoping for more than they ultimately received from him.

The great Vince Carter officially announced his retirement. The eight-time all-star and 1999 rookie of the year played for seven teams in his 22-year career. It might be hard to remember, but out of those teams, his shortest tenure came with the Phoenix Suns, in what was ultimately a forgettable footnote in his illustrious career. Let’s go back and examine that season.

Vince Carter came to the Phoenix Suns in a blockbuster trade during the 2010-2011 season, coming from the Orlando Magic along with Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, $3 million, and a 1st round draft pick for Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Earl Clark. I can tell you from my personal experience the hype was real. It was like when Phoenix traded for Shaq in my mind. (which should have been a sign right then.) I was all about the big names. The Suns have Vince Carter. VINCE CARTER! Half man, half amazing right?


It is important to remember that the Phoenix Suns were in an interesting position. The year before they had made it all the way to the western conference finals and a tough dismissal at the hands of the Lakers. They then lost star Amar’e Stoudemire to free agency and attempted to replace his presence with a stable of solid, if average, forwards. The plan failed, and by December 18th the 12-13 Suns needed to switch it up. It was time for a change. The Magic were looking for a firesale of their own, and the Suns were happy to oblige them.

Related Story. Friday Flashback: Looking back on the Phoenix Suns tenure of Marcin Gortat. light

For Phoenix, the trade had a few attractive features, including a 1st round pick and a young center in Gortat who could immediately soak up minutes for them. In Pietrus, the Suns acquired a solid three-point shooter and defender.  And with Carter, it didn’t hurt that he was on an expiring contract, one that would come off the books and give Lon Babby and the front office some cap flexibility to remake the team.

Vince Carter performed ably enough, he was just more “Man” than “Amazing” at this stage of his career.

However, eternal Suns optimists (or just me) would dream that Carter would be a player that works alongside Steve Nash but would also carry the offense on his back for stretches at a time. He would add that “wow” factor again; that name brand recognition that would help to lead Phoenix out of what appeared to be just an early-season morass. Carter could, even at 33, potentially fill those needs. That was the hope.

As it turned out, in order for the Phoenix Suns to get any of those attributes, they would have needed 2005 Vince Carter.

What they got instead was….2011 Vince Carter.

To his credit, Carter seemed by all accounts to be a solid locker room presence and was great with the media. He also brought veteran leadership, as well as all of the intangibles he would continue to provide in later years. Unfortunately, he could no longer play like the Carter of old, as this season would truly be the one where Vince would transition into the role-player phase of his career.

He would average just 13 points on 42/36/73 shooting splits, along with 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists. The numbers weren’t horrible, but the Suns just needed more. Carter would end up coming off the bench for his final 10 games in a Suns uniform, and would ultimately be released by Phoenix during the offseason. He would sign with Dallas, and his renaissance as a superb role player would begin and continue for another 10 years. 

Even though Carter’s one year in Phoenix was the definition of forgettable, Suns fans were able to watch a future hall of fame inductee wearing the purple and orange, and when it is a player with a career as long and ultimately celebrated as Vince Carter’s is, that is a rare treat.

Next. Draft talk: Breaking down the Phoenix Suns point guard options. dark