Suns now have more time to decide on Vince Carter’s contract

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The Phoenix Suns and Vince Carter have agreed to extend the deadline that would make his contract become fully guaranteed, according to a team press release. Originally, the Suns had until June 30 to decide whether they would waive him for $4 million, or keep him on the books for next season for the full amount of his guaranteed contract: an astronomical $18 million.

“This change gives us additional time and flexibility to make a decision on Vince’s contract,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby.

When you’re talking $18 million for Vince Carter, there is only one decision here, and it had been previously reported that Phoenix had already made it. And deadline extension or not, it’s the same one the team will make when the time comes again.

Letting Carter go and not committing to that ridiculous salary in these extremely uncertain financial times for the league — with a lockout quickly approaching and a new, lower salary cap structure in place whenever a new collective bargaining agreement does get done — is really the only option. But the extension, with the new deadline for the Suns now standing at the start of the 2011-2012 free agency period, does allow Phoenix to explore trade scenarios which can include Carter’s contract for next season.

Any deal involving big names must include players whose contracts closely match on the salary side, and $18 million gives the Suns almost unlimited options in pursuing whomever they choose.

Now, as for whether or not another team would be willing to take on Vince Carter at $18 million for next season, well, of course, that doesn’t seem very likely. Then again, neither did the Wizards being able to get out from under Gilbert Arenas’ monster contract, which had around $60 million remaining when they dealt him to the Orlando Magic last December.

So, while it remains doubtful that the Suns will be able to convince another team to commit to Carter at that price for next season, there is still a chance, however slim. This move simply buys the team some extra time to do so.

Lonzo Ball finishes one-handed alley-oop on Willie Cauley-Stein (video)

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So much attention is paid to Lonzo Ball‘s father, jumper and passes. Those are the major storylines for the Lakers rookie.

But he has such a diverse skill set, and this is absolutely part of it. Ball is a savvy off-ball cutter in the halfcourt with the athleticism to get above the rim and finish alley-oops.

But finish them over 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who was tracking the play (though slightly late)? That’s an eye-opener, even in the Kings’ 113-102 win.

Marc Gasol makes 3/4-court shot just after buzzer (video)

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When Marc Gasol‘s 3/4-court attempt went through the net, it seemed to barely matter the ball left his hands just after the first-quarter buzzer. After all, the Grizzlies led the Mavericks by 15, anyway.

Turns out, Memphis really needed that basket.

Watch Knicks string together 28-0 run against Raptors

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Toronto has been the second best team in the East this young season. Not that anyone is really convinced they will be called that by the time we get to the playoffs (or even the All-Star break, or even Christmas), but for the first 16-18 games of the season their new move-the-ball offense had them at 11-5 and looking solid.

Wednesday night the Knicks dismantled the Raptors.

Especially in the third quarter when the Knicks went on a 28-0 run to blow the doors off the Raptors (video above). The Knicks dominated the third 41-10, when Toronto shot just 1-of-16 from the floor.

New York is gaining confidence with each win this season, they are a fun team to watch that is starting to find an identity (now that a certain three-sided shaped one is not being forced upon them). Kristaps Porzingis is a monster, and while the Knicks overpaid the market for Tim Hardaway Jr. he has lived up to his contract this season. With rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina showing some nice defense and playmaking skills as a rookie (although he is undoubtedly still a work in progress), you can see a path to a strong future unfolding. There are real reasons for hope in New York. Someone just keep James Dolan distracted and away from the basketball operations side of the building.

Devin Booker forces OT with deep turnaround buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Bucks beat Suns (video)

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I’m not sure who benefited from Devin Booker‘s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing 3-pointer. The Suns still lost to the Bucks, 113-107. The extra five minutes featured more of the same relatively bad basketball we’d seen between Phoenix (bad) and Milwaukee (shorthanded) through 48 minutes.

But darn if this shot wasn’t really cool and clutch.