Vince Carter: Sixth-Man Mavs Exit Interview

Vince Carter didn't win the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award. But at age 37, the season he had with Dallas has won him the admiration of the Mavericks, who want the free agent back for another season. One factor: Much to Vince's surprise, some other NBA teams might want in on the July 1 bidding for the future Hall-of-Fame candidate. Vince's Exit Interview:

Vince Carter becomes a free agent on July 1, and at 37, you would think the sun might be setting quickly on his time with the Dallas Mavericks.

But he doesn't see it that way. Mavs management doesn't see it that way. And reportedly, his old team in Toronto doesn't, either.

"The right situation is what it's all about,'' Carter said. "At this point in my career I just want to play for teams that compete for a championship. I just want that opportunity.''

Depending on what else Dallas does in free agency, contention can happen here. All involved need to realize that Carter is a supplemental free agent, that other, bigger moves must happen first -- even as coach Rick Carlisle swears his desire is to have Carter back in 2014-15 for reasons of "continuity.''

Said GM Donnie Nelson: "Mark made it public in the locker room (last Sunday in San Antonio) that he would like to have every one of those guys back. But there's negotiation. "There's opportunity for those guys to experience free agency. We're one of 30 teams in the NBA, so it's got to be right for both sides."

There is no argument about Carter's productivity. He finished sixth in Sixth Man of the Year voting (Behind the Clippers' Jamal Crawford and also-rans Taj Gibson of Chicago and San Antonio's Manu Ginobili, among others) while being asked to carry the Mavs' second unit offensively. He did that, the 15-year veteran averaging 11.9 points in 24.4 minutes per game.

Carter struggled early in the season (maybe due to some shot-hunting) but was pivotal in Dallas pushing San Antonio to seven games in Round 1 of the playoffs. Carter was even more productive as he averaged 12.6 points and shot 48.4 percent at the arc. His buzzer-beating game-winning 3 in Game 3 was a highlight of the season.

During Monday's Exit Interview, Carter was asked about rumors that Toronto would like for him to become a Raptor again and retire there.

"Really?'' Carter responded to the group, "I didn't know that. I think more than anything I'm hoping that a lot of teams that appreciate, at my age, what I bring to the table. My love for the game hasn't changed from when I was s a younger guy.''

Later, I spoke to Carter 1-on-1 about the idea.
"Well, it's surprising and flattering,'' he said. "If teams see that through all my NBA career I've come to the point where all I care about is winning, then that's an accomplishment. If my body of work is appreciated in that way -- and a team thinks that I can be a player and a leader for them -- that's flattering to me.''

Carter, who earned $3.18 million this season, isn't just showing off his body of work. His body (in the literal sense) is worth noting, too. Carter doesn't have the same spring he had in his Vinsanity days, of course. But he says in terms of conditioning, this is often the time of year when he feels worn down.

But not this year.

"No, I was ready to keep rollin','' he told me. "Dirk talks about this all the time: The older you get, the harder you have to work.''

What Dirk also said: "You know, Vince played all 82 this year. That's amazing for a fossil.''

"Shots fired!'' laughed Carter, looking almost boyish in his Batman T-shirt. "Hey, I'll just try to stay healthy and stay as young as possible.''

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