DALLAS _ Even before Vince Carter cleared waivers earlier this week after he was released by the Phoenix Suns, he had his sights set on joining the Dallas Mavericks.
“The way they play basketball, the way I play, my mentality, what I’m looking to accomplish,’’ Carter said. “You want to go to a team where everybody can jell together, particularly at the beginning.
“And I feel like the way they play really fits me.’’
Carter remembers watching the Mavs run through the playoff murder’s row of Portland, the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City and Miami en route to winning their first NBA title, and he walked away thoroughly impressed.
“They had a wonderful season where they were able to overcome the odds, first and foremost,’’ Carter said. “It was a team that was resilient, that understood what it actually took to win _ and that you have to play together as a unit.
“Everybody understands their role -- it makes the game easier -- they’re willing to pass and willing to play together. It wasn’t about the individual accolades. It was, ‘How can we accomplish the goal that at this point in time everybody wishes to accomplish?’ ‘’
Carter didn’t even have time to talk with Jason Kidd before making his decision to come to Dallas. Kidd and Carter were New Jersey Nets teammates from 2004-’08.
“You weight your options, you see what’s out there,’’ Carter said. “I had a couple of great opportunities, but it was ‘what’s the best fit?’ ‘’
Coach Rick Carlisle is so infatuated with Carter that he said he’ll probably start him at shooting guard to open the season.
“He’s such a really good all-around player,’’ Carlisle said. “The spectacular nature of his game for the majority of his career lends itself to people knowing him as this sky walker, dunker, spectacular player.
“But if you watched him play the last few years, he still plays above the rim. He’s an efficient player. He doesn’t waste a lot of movement on the court, and he’s a terrific passer, and I think that’s one thing about his game that gets overlooked.’’
It may get overlooked by some, but not by Carlisle.
“He had a very solid year last year in terms of production, and he’s been a guy that’s been a big-time producer in this league,’’ Carlisle said of Carter. “Now he’s in a situation here with us this year where he’s not going to be viewed as the main guy.
“We’re going to need him to fit in with our guys, and there’s going to be times we’re going to need him to have a big night to win a game. There’s no doubt about that.’’
Carter, who turns 35 next month, is just happy he found a contender who thinks so highly of him.
“This was the best fit, plain and simple,’’ Carter said. “They expressed their interest and you could feel that it was sincere.
“The feeling was mutual.’’
-- Dwain Price
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