Nets Ink Vince Carter to Multiyear Deal

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 26, 2005

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The New Jersey Nets signed a deal with guard Vince Carter on Friday that will keep the eight-time All-Star in New Jersey at least through the 2010-11 season.

Carter will receive $66 million guaranteed _ which includes four years plus a partial guarantee for a fifth year _ and could make as much as $80 million, according to a person involved in the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Nets haven’t announced the terms.

The framework for the deal was first reported on July 1.

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Carter recently became a free agent when he opted out of the final year of a contract with the Nets that would have paid him $16.3 million next season.

Though New Jersey announced the opt-out at the end of June, speculation over Carter’s future was a constant undercurrent during a season in which the Nets struggled to maintain consistency before finishing 41-41. New Jersey reached the second round of the playoffs, losing to Cleveland.

Carter said all along that he would address the situation after the season, and on Friday he acknowledged that he had difficulty envisioning himself in a uniform other than New Jersey’s.

“I knew it could happen. It’s about patience and waiting for the right time,” Carter said at a news conference. “I kind of put it on the shelf and wanted to concentrate on my season, and I probably played my best basketball this year because of that.”

Carter was the only Net to play in all 82 games last season and averaged 25.2 points, six rebounds and 4.8 assists.

“How many other guys can do that?” Nets general manager Rod Thorn said. “You can count them on one hand. We certainly would have been remiss if we’d let Vince get away, and fortunately, that didn’t happen.”

The re-signing of Carter, the NBA’s fourth-highest scoring active player with a career average of 24.1 points, indicates that the team feels its nucleus _ Carter, Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and rehabbing center Nenad Krstic _ is strong enough to contend for a title, with a few tweaks.

“It was important to me to keep the core group together because we understand each other, we know our likes and dislikes,” Carter said. “We all get along. That’s the ingredient, is having guys who really know each other like the back of our hands, and I felt that was really important.”

The Nets have failed to advance beyond the second round of the playoffs in the last four years since reaching the NBA finals in 2003 against San Antonio. In 2005-2006, Carter’s first full season with the team, he averaged nearly 30 points in the postseason but the Nets couldn’t match Miami’s bench and were eliminated by the Heat in the conference semifinals.

Last season Carter averaged 22.3 points to lead the Nets in the postseason, but he shot less than 40 percent from the field and made several big mistakes.

He turned the ball over in the closing seconds of Game 4 of the conference semifinals against Cleveland with the Nets down two points and 2-1 in the series. He also struggled in the deciding Game 6, scoring 11 points while and committing more turnovers (five) than baskets (four).

New Jersey will have Krstic back for next season after he missed 56 games with a knee injury, but the Nets are still seeking to add another big man. That won’t be journeyman Mikki Moore, who replaced Krstic and averaged 9.8 points and 5.1 rebounds and shot a league-best 61 percent from the floor.

Moore left the Nets to sign with the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. Thorn indicated earlier in the day that Moore had received offers from several teams and didn’t seem inclined to match them.

The Nets have reportedly met with 6-foot-11 veteran Jamaal Magloire, who averaged 6.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and shot 50 percent from the floor while averaging 21 minutes for Portland last season.

Also on Friday, the Nets waived veteran forward Clifford Robinson, who had spent the last two and a half seasons with the team.

Robinson led New Jersey’s bench players with averages of 6.9 points and 3.3 rebounds in 2005-2006, but he was suspended for five games during the postseason for violating the league’s drug policy midway through the conference semifinal series against Miami.

Last season Robinson averaged 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 50 games.

Robinson ranks seventh in NBA history in games played (1,380), 13th in minutes (42,561), 33rd in points (19,591), 16th in three-point field goals made (1,253) and eighth in personal fouls (4,175).

A service of the Associated Press(AP)