Nets start rebuilding, acquire Vince Carter

Friday, December 17th 2004, 8:26 pm
By: News On 6

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ After dismantling the team in the summer and annoying Jason Kidd, the New Jersey Nets started the job of appeasing and rebuilding by acquiring Vince Carter from Toronto on Friday.

To get the five-time All Star, the Nets gave the Raptors center Alonzo Mourning, forwards Aaron Williams and Eric Williams, and two first-round draft picks.

``He is a true star, a charismatic personality and one of the most exciting and talented players in the league,'' Nets owner Bruce Ratner said. ``Vince provides an immediate impact and gives our fans an electrifying team to watch every night. Most importantly, we are committed to winning and this is an important step.''

There were many who doubted the Nets' commitment to winning this summer after they were forced to sign and trade All-Star forward Kenyon Martin to Denver in what was seen as a cost-saving move by the team's new ownership.

Veteran shooting guard Kerry Kittles later was traded to the Clippers and well-like Lucious Harris was released.

The three were key members of a team that went to the NBA Finals in 2002 and '03, and one that took eventual champion Detroit to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season.

The moves not only decimated the team, they left Kidd very unhappy. The perennial All-Star point guard openly said he dreamed of being traded.

This trade might make Kidd reconsider, especially with the thought of Carter and Richard Jefferson playing his wings on the court.

Nets president Rod Thorn didn't consult Kidd in making the deal.

``From my standpoint, I just felt it was something that would be a big plus for our franchise,'' Thorn said. ``To have a player of this ilk on your team, obviously is a plus.''

The trade essentially sends three 30-plus-year-old players to Canada for a 27-year-old who is among the league's best when healthy.

``Carter is one of those special talents,'' Thorn said. ``When he's healthy, he's right up in the top tier of the league. We look forward, assuming everyone is going to pass their physicals to make the trade official, to putting him in our lineup. With he and Jason and Richard, we're going to have a very, very exciting trio. He's just a special talent.''

Thorn said negotiations started earlier this week and wrapped up around 6 p.m. on Friday.

Thorn felt the key was including a second first-round pick in the package.

Carter, whose contract runs through the 2008 season, and the two Williams have to pass physicals for the deal to become official. They have 48 hours to report to their new teams.

Mourning, who had a kidney transplant in December, does not have to pass a physical. Thorn isn't sure whether Mourning will report to the Raptors, but the deal is not contingent on that.

Mourning was openly unhappy with the Nets' offseason moves.

``It just didn't work out,'' Thorn said of Mourning, whose comeback was the lone bright spot early in the season when Kidd was sidelined with a knee injury and the team was losing.

``Last year he was injured, and this year he wanted to be elsewhere,'' Thorn said. ``He just wasn't happy here. Obviously, he wanted to be somewhere else, and now he gets that opportunity.''

Carter comes to the Nets with career numbers of 24.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.33 steals and 1.03 blocks in 403 games over seven NBA seasons.

Carter, who was in Indianapolis, was excited about the deal, said Thorn, adding the swingman probably won't play for the Nets until Tuesday at Charlotte.

Thorn said the Nets still have a long way to go to make the playoffs, but that if they make the postseason they would be a formidable foe.

``I think it's a statement from ownership that they are willing to spend on a quality player, which Carter is, and we want to win, that we are here to win, and that were are not here to wait three or four years and hope our draft choices pan out,'' Thorn said.

The two first-round draft picks the Nets sent to Toronto were acquired in the Martin deal this summer. They include Philadelphia's first-round pick in 2005 and Denver's first round pick in 2006.

The picks are protected if they very early in the draft.