The Memphis Grizzlies signing Vince Carter slipped under the national radar amidst all the transactions this weekend, but it's a move that subtly shifts the balance of power at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture. While Vince had a 16 PER and averaged only 24 minutes a game, he was a huge part of the Mavericks team last year and they will have a very difficult time replacing all the things he did on their second unit.
Vince had a legitimate case for 6MOY last season. At 6'6 205, he was one of the Mavs main shot-creators of the bench, one of their best spot-up shooters from, a guy who could run point and create offense for everyone else and one of their best perimeter defenders at the 2 and 3 positions. And he did all of this on a $3 million salary! That's the problem for Dallas - there's no way to replace his production at his salary slot.
Just look at two guys whom the Mavs were linked too but didn't end up signing - Mike Miller and Paul Pierce. Miller could have replaced Vince's ability to shoot and attack a close-out, but he's not nearly the same type of defensive player and you can't run offense through him. Pierce could have been a primary creator off the bench, but he spent a lot of time as a small-ball PF in Brooklyn last season and doesn't have the same type of athleticism that Vince does at this stage in their careers.
Vince's versatility is what allowed the Mavs to get away with giving a role on their bench to Jae "The Beast" Crowder, a young player whose not a standout shooter, scorer, rebounder, passer or defensive player. If you are going to get less out of Vince's spot in the rotation, than you have to get more out of Crowder, which he hasn't really shown the ability to do in his first two seasons in the league. In essence, replacing Vince means bringing in multiple players to boost their bench.
He's going to be a big help to the Grizzlies, as he instantly becomes the most complete wing player in their rotation and there should be plenty of minutes to go around with Miller and James Johnson gone. Vince is a better shooter than Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince, a better passer and creator than Courtney Lee and Quincy Pondexter and a better defensive player than Jordan Adams, their first round pick from UCLA. My guess is that Vince will end up closing games for them, as the rare perimeter player who can create his own shot, stretch the floor, make plays for others and defend.
That's a very valuable combination of skills to have, even if his tendency to force the issue on offense made him a somewhat polarizing player among Mavs fans. Even if Dallas winds up with Chandler Parsons, they will miss all the things that Vince did on their bench. And if they don't wind up either either player .... they better snatch up Lance Stephenson or this is going to be a very long off-season for the Mavs.