EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Vince Carter turned to New Jersey
Nets owner Bruce Ratner and team president Rod Thorn to deliver a
"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
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
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."