There are very few players in the NBA who, over the course of their career, have elicited as much passion as Vince Carter. As a young player, Carter earned the nickname "Half Man, Half Amazing" for his incredible high-flying dunks, which are the stuff of YouTube legend.
The 33-year-old Carter is a 12-year NBA veteran who's been in eight All-Star games (seven times as a starter), won Rookie of the Year and has numerous other awards, including an Olympic Gold Medal. Carter is just 169 points shy of 20,000 on his career and is still averaging 15 points per game on 47 percent shooting in 30 minutes with the Magic this season.
Carter is also a guy who is frequently considered by most NBA observers to be a selfish player more interested in his own stats and a guy who's never been much of a leader. He's known for frequent injuries, taking bad shots at key moments, poor defense and questionable effort as he's advanced into his 30s. But Suns GM Lance Blanks thinks Carter has a lot to offer the Suns.
"Vince has been as good a scorer as anyone in the NBA in his time. I think there's more left than some others may (think)," Blanks said. He feels that Carter's up and down year this season with Orlando is related to some "nicks and bruises."
"We're excited about him. I think he's probably undervalued from a perception standpoint. We believe that he has a lot more left than one might think with the naked eye because of his ability to shot the ball and play with a point guard like Steve Nash. I think we'll see this guy in a much different light than you might have seen Vince over the first 20-plus games of the season."
For his part, Carter was described by the Suns as "wildly enthusiastic" about being traded to Phoenix. He knows Grant Hill from their time together as neighbors in Orlando and is said to be excited to play with Steve Nash.
Vince Carter highlight reel from the 2009-10 season
Marcin Gortat was quite clearly the key to this trade for the Suns. Blanks and Suns President Lon Babby frequently talked about the need to add size, rebounding and defense to the team and they are excited about Gortat's toughness. They feel Marcin can improve the Suns defensively while also helping on the offensive end by getting easy buckets playing pick-and-roll, finishing in the lane and running the floor.
Gortat, 26, has played as a backup to Dwight Howard for the past four years in Orlando and was openly disappointed when the Magic matched an offer sheet from Dallas that would have given the restricted free agent the chance to have a bigger role.
"He is ecstatic to be here," Blanks said about Gortat's reaction to the trade news.
"Another thing, this takes an enormous amount of pressure off Lopez. I don't think people realize how much pressure it is being the only guy on the floor his size and the load he might have to carry, especially with Amare being gone. Now he's got another big body out there that can take up some of the load from a rebounding standpoint and a defensive standpoint and also a guy that we can throw the ball to down low," Blanks said.
Gortat is averaging a career-high 4.0 points and a career-high 4.7 rebounds in just 15.9 minutes playing behind Howard this season. He shoots 54 percent from the field and 67 percent from the free throw line.
Lance Blanks had a chance to see Pietrus up close during the 2008-09 playoffs when Mickael helped lift the Orlando Magic over the Cleveland Cavaliers, with whom Blanks was working at the time as an assistant GM. Pietrus made a name for himself in that series with his tough defense on LeBron James and his ability to knock down big shots.
"I can't emphasize enough ... his (Pietrus) level of grit and toughness he's going to bring will be very much welcome here in our organization," Blanks said.
Pietrus is currently sidelined with a knee sprain that the team doesn't feel will be a long term issue. All players involved in the trade will undergo physicals conducted by their new teams.
Pietrus is a 6-6, 215-pound swingman who can play either the shooting guard or small forward positions. His nickname, "Air France," reflects his athletic ability, which was often on display when he played in Golden State and frequently finished fast break plays with big dunks.
He is averaging 6.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 20 minutes of play this season. Mickael is also shooting a career-high 39.1 percent from three-point range.
When can they play?
Because of the timing of those medical exams, Babby doesn't expect any of the new players to be available for Sunday's game in Oklahoma or Monday's game in San Antonio. That would make Thursday's game at home against Miami as the target for their debut.