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Raptors Trade Carter to Nets

December 18, 2004

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ All-Star Vince Carter was traded by the Toronto Raptors to the New Jersey Nets for Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and a pair of first-round draft picks Friday.

Carter, on the injured list with a strained left Achilles’ tendon, was at the Raptors’ morning shootaround, but did not accompany the team to Conseco Fieldhouse for its game against the Pacers.

``Anytime you lose a guy like Vince, it’s a big blow,″ Toronto forward Donyell Marshall said. ``He was to Canada what Michael Jordan was to the Bulls.″

``Obviously they felt that was the best deal on the table for us,″ said Marshall, who spoke to Carter at his hotel room. ``We’re going to miss Vince as a player and as a person. We wish him the best.″

Carter is headed to a Nets team that sorely missed the athleticism it lost when Kenyon Martin left for Denver in the offseason. With Jason Kidd healthy again and Richard Jefferson on one wing, New Jersey has a chance to return to the up-tempo style that made it one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

``We are very excited to add a player of Vince’s caliber to the Nets roster,″ Nets president Rod Thorn said. ``He is a proven All-Star who brings a unique dynamic to any team of which he is a member.

``Vince’s ability to run the floor fits in very well with our desired style of play, and his ability to create his own shot will elevate the productivity of our halfcourt offense.″

Carter has been an All-Star the past four seasons and is easily the biggest star to play in Canada since the NBA expanded there 10 years ago.

He spent all six-plus years of his career in Toronto, earning the nickname ``Air Canada″ for his high-flying dunks and remarkable athleticism. He leaves the Raptors as the franchise leader in 10 categories, including scoring, 3-pointers made and games started.

Despite his significant success in Toronto, trade rumors have surrounded Carter all season. The five-time All-Star asked to be dealt earlier in the year, and the Raptors had spent the last several weeks in trade discussions with a number of teams.

All the speculation made it seem inevitable that Carter would be traded, but that didn’t do much to soften the blow on Friday.

``I’m still just shocked,″ Morris Peterson said. ``Even with all the trade talks, it’s hard to believe.″

When asked what his first reaction was upon learning Carter had been dealt, Jalen Rose said, ``Was it for Richard Jefferson?

``With Kidd at the point, Jefferson on one wing, you put Vince Carter on the other wing, it kind of reminds people on paper of what they had with Kenyon Martin,″ Rose said.

The Nets play at Toronto on Sunday, giving Carter a quick look at his former team.

The Raptors will be getting three defensive-minded players to replace the one player who has defined offense in Canada since he arrived in 1998.

``Those guys have been through the fires,″ point guard Rafer Alston said. ``They toughen us up defensively. You have Zo blocking shots, Eric Williams can guard, Aaron Williams, those guys make us real competitive from a defensive standpoint.

``We’re going to miss Vince. I’m going to miss his presence on the floor, drawing a lot of attention, just that factor. It’s going to be tough.″

Mourning, who signed with New Jersey as a free agent on July 16, 2004, has played in a total of 30 games with the Nets, averaging 9.4 points and 7.4 rebounds. After playing in 12 games in 2003-04 season, Mourning was forced to stop playing basketball due to kidney disease.

Mourning underwent kidney transplant surgery on December 19, 2003, causing him to miss the remainder of that season. In his comeback this season, the seven-time All-Star played in 18 games with New Jersey, averaging 10.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.28 blocks.

Aaron Williams played in 336 games with New Jersey after signing as a free agent in August 2000. In four-plus seasons with the nets, he’s averaging 7.2 points and 4.7 rebounds.

Eric Williams, currently in his 10th NBA season, signed with the Nets in August, and ranked second in scoring this season, averaging 12.6 points.

``This isn’t a deal where we are sending three guys who didn’t help us,″ Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. ``They did help us. But it was an opportunity ... to acquire an All-Star player.″

The two first-round selections sent to Toronto were originally acquired from Denver as part of a trade made this past summer.

The trade was first reported by the New York Daily News on its Web site and ESPN.com.

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