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When Vince Carter was "The Trade" - a look back at 2004

Bruce Bennett

Toronto is trying to come to grips with its love/hate relationship with Vince Carter. In recent weeks, there have been discussions of what really went down in 2004 that led to "The Trade" of its era -- VC for two first round picks, Alonzo Mourning, Aaron Williams and Eric Williams.

Michael Grange of SportsNet Canada writes about that time, how Carter clashed with a new management that didn't think he was the franchise player,  firing his favorite trainer, taking away his mother's parking space at Air Canada Center, then reducing his minutes.

For Nets fans, the interest has to be about the final stages of the romance between the city and Carter, when the Raptors decided to trade him in December 2004.  Like so many trades, including the one with Boston in June, it came together quickly.

Grange quotes Ed Stefanski, then Nets GM and later Raptors GM, on how it went down...

The Nets were crumbling, and Stefanski (who later worked for the Raptors) looked north and saw an opportunity. "You hear or read that he and the coach aren’t eye-to-eye, and you pick up the phone," he says. "There’s nothing I did that was special. You call 30 teams, but we were fortunate." The deal went down in 24 hours. "When I mentioned the two first-round picks, they got real excited," says Stefanski. "I got off the phone, and the next day we completed the deal."

The picks turned out to be Joey Graham (No. 16 in 2005) and Renaldo Balkman (No. 20 in 2006, though by that point the pick belonged to the Knicks). The Raptors also acquired contract ballast in the form of Alonzo Mourning and Eric and Aaron Williams. Combined, the assets received scored 1,982 points for the Raptors. Carter matched that number before he played a full 82 games for the Nets.

Of course, the picks could have been Danny Granger and Rajon Rondo, both of whom were taken after Graham and Balkman, but (word to the wise) they weren't and Grange rightfully calls it "one of the most lopsided transactions in league history."

He also notes that in the time it took for the deal to get done, Carter went to his coach, Sam Mitchell, to say  he wanted to stay.  Grange reports, "Mitchell told (GM Rob) Babcock, but the general manager never took it higher. 'The deal had been agreed to,' Babcock says."

So VC, who Sunday celebrates his 37th birthday, became a Net and now is in top 10 of 20 offensive categories in franchise history, including No. 1 in points per game (23.6).