The Memphis Grizzlies have agreed to sign free agent guard Vince Carter to a three-year, $12 million deal according to Yahoo! Sports. Memphis, which is over the salary cap, is able to sign Carter by using a portion of the mid-level exception.
Carter, 37, will replace the likely outgoing Mike Miller on the wing for the Grizzlies next season. While not the pure sharpshooter that Miller is, Carter converted 40 percent of his long-range attempts in his last two years with Dallas while filling in creative gaps when needed. This move is more than replacing one spot shooter for another. Beyond his ability to space the floor for the Grizzlies' stars, Carter is also a skilled pick-and-roll player, a decent playmaker off the dribble and a strong, able perimeter defender. His is the game of a former star repackaged into that of a role player, which should help to jazz up the Grizzlies' offense.
Memphis head coach Dave Joerger did a fine job of increasing his team's tempo of execution last season while folding more complex offensive functions, though schematic tweaks can only go so far when the wing positions are manned by specialists. Courtney Lee was a big help last season if only because he could do a touch of everything. Carter is a similar player with far more offensive skill, and along with the returning Quincy Pondexter (who played just 15 games last season due to a broken foot) should greatly expand the utility of the Grizzlies wing corps. They'll provide a fuller complement to Memphis' stars in the coming season, and in Carter they have a creator through which to channel spurts of second-unit offense. Good on the Grizz for addressing the Miller void with a player capable of serving the same function and more.
Grade: B-plus. Giving a three-year deal to a 37-year-old wing player might seem like a risk, but Carter's game (which yielded 17.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per 36 minutes just last season) has aged gracefully enough to justify the investment. Plus, Carter's deal will only be partially guaranteed in its final season, allowing Memphis to benefit from his game in the interim while hedging against the 39-year-old Carter in 2016.