The moment that Kyle Lowry‘s attempt to win Game 7 was denied by Paul Pierce, the Toronto Raptors immediately directed their efforts towards contending for a second consecutive trip to the playoffs next season.
But with the franchise finally headed towards long-term respectability, the most legendary name from the annals of Raptor history has unexpectedly resurfaced as a possible free agent addition. And the fact that their beloved team is even considering a move that would bring Vince Carter back to Canada has brought mixed emotions to basketball fans throughout the city of Toronto.
Now 37 and entering his 17th year as a pro, Carter’s ability to create excitement with dunks worthy of the All-Star Weekend once made the Raptors a regular on highlight packages, and the former ACC-standout never averaged less than 18.3 PPG in a full season while north of the border. In his second NBA campaign, Carter, by then on the verge of super-stardom, propelled Toronto to it’s first winning season with a 45-37 record, also giving the Raptors their first look at life in the playoffs and igniting a three-year run in which the franchise was a postseason regular.
While leading Toronto out of its existence as an expansion team and into the NBA’s second season for the very first time would’ve been enough to secure Carter a significant place in the hearts of the Raptors faithful, the amount of attention that the franchise received from his high-flying exploits were priceless to the organization.
Like it or not, Toronto may be on to something if the price is right, and despite the widespread belief that Terrence Ross is headed for greatness, Carter outperformed the struggling sophomore in every major offensive category during both the regular season and the playoffs.
Most importantly, even if Ross develops into the offensive threat that many feel he could one day be, the minute he takes the final step towards becoming an All-Star, the chemistry in Toronto is likely to revert to what it was when Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan ran the floor together.
No, Carter’s return won’t lead to an NBA title, erase the disappointment felt when he left, or make that missed jump shot against the Philadelphia 76ers fall. But it would add an experienced veteran who has done a lot of maturing over the years to a team looking to gain stability.