Raptors receive three players and two picks

Updated: December 18, 2004, 5:51 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

INDIANAPOLIS -- All-Star Vince Carter was traded by the Toronto Raptors to the New Jersey Nets for Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and a pair of first-round draft picks Friday.

Vince Carter
Forward
Toronto Raptors
Profile
2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
20 15.9 3.3 3.1 .411 .694

The trade was first reported by ESPN Insider Chad Ford.

Carter, on the injured list with a strained left Achilles tendon, was at the Raptors' morning shootaround, but did not accompany the team to Conseco Fieldhouse for its game against the Pacers.

"Any time you lose a guy like Vince, it's a big blow," Toronto forward Donyell Marshall said. "He was to Canada what Michael Jordan was to the Bulls."

"Obviously they felt that was the best deal on the table for us," said Marshall, who spoke to Carter at his hotel room. "We're going to miss Vince as a player and as a person. We wish him the best."

Carter is headed to a Nets team that sorely missed the athleticism it lost when Kenyon Martin left for Denver in the offseason. With Jason Kidd healthy again and Richard Jefferson on one wing, New Jersey has a chance to return to the up-tempo style that made it one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Alonzo Mourning
Center
New Jersey Nets
Profile
2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
18 10.4 7.1 0.8 .453 .593

The trade signals that the Nets want to keep Kidd and rebuild around him. After the offseason trades of Martin and Kerry Kittles, Kidd expressed his displeasure with the direction the Nets were taking.

"I hope this changes his mind a little bit. I hope he will give it a chance and see where it goes from here," said Carter, Kidd's teammate on the 2000 U.S. Olympic team.

The injured Carter will not be in uniform Sunday when the Nets play at Toronto.

Kidd, in Memphis with the Nets, sounded pleased by the trade but noncommittal about his future.

Eric Williams
Forward
New Jersey Nets
Profile
2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
21 12.6 4.5 2.0 .470 .685

"I'm a Net until told otherwise," Kidd said. "I've always asked to be competitive, to put a competitive team out there, and that's what they're trying to do."

Carter earned the nicknames "Air Canada" and "Half-Man, Half-Amazing" for his high-flying dunks, which breathed life into a moribund franchise and made him easily the biggest star to play in Canada since the NBA expanded there 10 years ago.

"We are very excited to add a player of Vince's caliber to the Nets roster," Nets president Rod Thorn said. "He is a proven All-Star who brings a unique dynamic to any team of which he is a member.

Aaron Williams
Forward
New Jersey Nets
Profile
2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
19 1.9 1.6 0.3 .519 .900

"Vince's ability to run the floor fits in very well with our desired style of play, and his ability to create his own shot will elevate the productivity of our halfcourt offense."

Carter has been an All-Star the past four seasons and is easily the biggest star to play in Canada since the NBA expanded there 10 years ago.

He spent all six-plus years of his career in Toronto, earning the nickname "Air Canada" for his high-flying dunks and remarkable athleticism. He leaves the Raptors as the franchise leader in 10 categories, including scoring, 3-pointers made and games started.

But his production has been on a slow decline since he averaged 27.6 points in 2000-01 and brought the Raptors within one victory of a trip to the conference finals. Carter has become less aggressive, often settling for jumpers rather than driving the ball and drawing contact, and he has been unable to shake a reputation of being a "soft" player.

Carter's current averages of 15.9 points and 3.3 rebounds are career-lows, as is his field goal percentage of .411.

"The organization has been good to me and given me an opportunity to grow and make a name for myself," Carter said. "Where it went wrong? I don't know. I guess it just got to where it was time to move on."

Despite his significant success in Toronto, trade rumors have surrounded Carter all season. The five-time All-Star asked to be dealt earlier in the year, and the Raptors had spent the last several weeks in trade discussions with a number of teams.

"Vince said it to me that sometimes we just need a change of scenery," Raptors general manager Rob Babcock said. "And this is probably a situation where it is the best thing for Vince and the best thing for us."

All the speculation made it seem inevitable that Carter would be traded, but that didn't do much to soften the blow on Friday.

"I'm still just shocked," Morris Peterson said. "Even with all the trade talks, it's hard to believe."

Thorn said there was an outside chance Mourning would not report to Toronto because he wants to play for a contender.

"We did this trade knowing that his medical condition may mean that he never plays for us," Babcock said. "We would do this trade regardless of whether he was in it or not."

When asked what his first reaction was upon learning Carter had been dealt, Jalen Rose said, "Was it for Richard Jefferson?

"With Kidd at the point, Jefferson on one wing, you put Vince Carter on the other wing, it kind of reminds people on paper of what they had with Kenyon Martin," Rose said.

The Raptors will be getting three defensive-minded players to replace the one player who has defined offense in Canada since he arrived in 1998.

"Those guys have been through the fires," point guard Rafer Alston said. "They toughen us up defensively. You have Zo blocking shots, Eric Williams can guard, Aaron Williams, those guys make us real competitive from a defensive standpoint.

"We're going to miss Vince. I'm going to miss his presence on the floor, drawing a lot of attention, just that factor. It's going to be tough."

Mourning, who signed with New Jersey as a free agent on July 16, 2004, has played in a total of 30 games with the Nets, averaging 9.4 points and 7.4 rebounds. After playing in 12 games in 2003-04 season, Mourning was forced to stop playing basketball due to kidney disease.

Mourning underwent kidney transplant surgery on Dec. 19, 2003, causing him to miss the remainder of that season. In his comeback this season, the seven-time All-Star played in 18 games with New Jersey, averaging 10.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.28 blocks. He was also was dissatisfied with the Nets' offseason moves and had asked for a trade.

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

Aaron Williams played in 336 games with New Jersey after signing as a free agent in August 2000. In four-plus seasons with the Nets, he's averaging 7.2 points and 4.7 rebounds, but dropped out of the Nets' rotation this season as a backup center.

Eric Williams, currently in his 10th NBA season, signed with the Nets in August, and ranked second in scoring this season, averaging 12.6 points as New Jersey's starting small forward.

All three former Nets will add much-needed size to the Raptors, who also received two of the first-round picks the Nets acquired from Denver in the Martin trade.

"Those guys have been through the fires," point guard Rafer Alston said. "They toughen us up defensively. You have Zo blocking shots, Eric Williams can guard, Aaron Williams, those guys make us real competitive from a defensive standpoint."

"This isn't a deal where we are sending three guys who didn't help us," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "They did help us. But it was an opportunity ... to acquire an All-Star player."

The two first-round selections sent to Toronto were originally acquired from Denver as part of a trade made this past summer.

Information from The Associated Press and was used in this report.

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