Vince makes promise to Ratner
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Vince Carter turned to New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner and team president Rod Thorn to deliver a vow.
"I thank both you guys for bringing me here. I won't let you down. I promise," Carter said Wednesday at his introductory news conference for the New Jersey Nets, who acquired the five-time All-Star last week from the Toronto Raptors.
A sore Achilles tendon kept Carter out of the Nets' game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Carter said he was hoping to play Monday night at Detroit.
So for at least a few more days, the Nets will have to wait and see what the pairing of Carter with Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson will look like.
"Don't blink when you see Vince, Jason and Richard together," Ratner said. "They're going to be so fast, so quick."
But will they be permanent?
That is the longer-term question facing the Nets as they move forward trying to appease the disgruntled Kidd, who was upset by the offseason cost-cutting moves that led to the departures of Kenyon Martin, Kerry Kittles, Lucious Harris and Rodney Rogers from a team that went to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.
The Carter trade left the Nets undertalented in the frontcourt, with Nenad Krstic starting at center and Jason Collins at power forward, backed up by Brian Scalabrine, Kaniel Dickens and Jabari Smith.
Thorn said he would continue to explore trade possibilities to address the team's weaknesses.
Ratner, who purchased the team over the summer, plans to move the franchise to Brooklyn in 2007. In the meantime, Carter will help him bring bodies into an attendance-starved arena so decrepit that the air reeked of mildew in the area beneath the stands where Ratner, Carter and Thorn held their news conference.
"I never really knew New Jersey was in the picture," said Carter, the subject of trade rumors all season after his agent asked the Raptors to deal him over the summer.
Carter's production has dropped steadily since he was the darling of All-Star Weekend in 1998, won a gold medal for the U.S. men's basketball team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and came within a few inches of leading Toronto to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001.
Carter recalled the ease with which he scored when he was Kidd's teammate on the 2000 Olympic team -- and when he was paired with Jefferson and Kidd on the 2003 Olympic qualifying team. He had no harsh words for the Raptors, or for the fans in Toronto who turned on him when they realized his days north of the border were coming to a close.
"I'm rejuvenated," Carter said, "This is an opportunity for me to start over. I feel like a rookie again."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press