Dallas Mavericks

Vince Carter thought he was coming back to the Mavs

DALLAS – Once the Dallas Mavericks were able to officially secure restricted free agent Chandler Parsons with a massive three-year, $46 million contract this past July, Vince Carter knew his days in North Texas were numbered.

So Carter did the next best thing by inking a three-year, $12.2 million free agent contract with the Memphis Grizzlies – the third year is partially guaranteed for $2 million -- while having praising the Mavs along the way.

"They offered that young man a lot of money, so I kind of understood how it goes from there,’’ Carter said after Monday morning’s shootaround at American Airlines Center. "It’s a business, I get it, so it’s no hard feelings or anything like that.

"I think people, just through listening, tried to make it a different situation.’’

Carter and the Grizzlies will play the Mavs a preseason game tonight at 7:30 at AAC.

After three seasons with the Mavs, Carter ventured into the summer expecting to be back with Dallas. At least that’s the vibes he got from Mavs management.

"We talked prior to – in the exit meetings -- and then that was pretty much it,’’ Carter said. "I kind of understood I was kind of waiting for free agency to hit.

"And then it all happened.’’

After the Mavs got Parsons locked up, Carter felt he had to make sure his own business was being handled properly. Especially since the Mavs weren’t willing to offer more than the veteran’s minimum of a one-year, $1.4 million contract.

"It’s a great situation, a great offer from Memphis,’’ said Carter, who averaged 11.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists last season. "So it was kind of like if I pass on this now, what will be left here (in Dallas) for me?

"Which, obviously, not much. So I had to move on.’’

During his short tenure with the Mavs, Carter was one of the most respected players on the team. His basketball IQ, leadership and production were staples on a squad which was transitioning from winning the 2011 NBA title when Carter first arrived on the scene.

"He was great for us for three years,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. "He was a great leader, he set a great example for all the young guys we had during that period of time, and he was a great player.

"He easily could have been (the NBA) Sixth Man of the Year last year.’’

Carter said he’ll treasure those years he had with the Mavs. Particularly when he joined the Mavs at a time – at age 34 – that not many coaches and general managers felt he had much left in the tank.

"(Owner Mark) Cuban believed in me in the beginning when I guess a lot of people just felt like I was done or I couldn’t play any more,’’ Carter said. "And I just got better and better.

"A lot of guys think when you get that age how can you get better. I think I got better, and I just fit with this team, and I think it worked and coach made it work.’’

In Parsons, Carter believes the Mavs acquired a multi-dimensional player with an abundance of talent.

"He knows how to play,’’ Carter said. "Very skilled, he can guard a lot of positions, he can shoot the ball, and he’ll make plays for them.

"I think you can’t pass on a guy like that. And it’s a great opportunity for this team on both sides of the ball.’’

As far as his situation with the Grizzlies goes, Carter was asked about the chance to play with low-post threats Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol after playing the past three years with Dirk Nowitzki.

"It’s just a different style of play,’’ Carter said. "We’ve got two monsters down there in the post that demands a lot of attention.

"We know the attention that Dirk demands. It’s just a total different style of play.’’

Carter will be 40 when his contract with the Grizzlies expires. But he’s more than up for the challenge.

"I get to play for three more years, three years guaranteed on a darn good basketball team – I’ve got to take it,’’ Carter said. "I’m thankful for it.

"They allow me to really just be me and just do what I do and help out as much as possible. Which I enjoy doing anyway, as you guys know. I feel good.’’

Carter, who helped Dallas beat San Antonio by one point with a dramatic three-point buzzer-beater in Game 3 of last year’s first-round playoff series, also feels good about his time with the Mavs.

"I was just glad to be a part of it and part of some great guys and great pieces, and it was fun last year,’’ Carter said. "It was definitely fun.’’