Vince Carter: ‘I have a young guy’s mentality with a 40-year-old body’

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ATLANTA (AP) Vince Carter can’t say his 21st NBA season will be his last.

At least not yet.

Carter signed a one-year veteran minimum contract Friday with the rebuilding Atlanta Hawks, his eighth team, in what could be his final stop before starting a career in broadcasting.

It appears to be the right mix for Carter, the league’s oldest active player. He turns 42 in January and wants to be ready for a television job when his playing days end.

Atlanta, home to Turner Broadcasting and NBA TV, is the right place to be, but Carter isn’t quite ready to announce his retirement.

“I know playing this game that the media and the fans and people can be cruel,” he said with a grin. “It’s like, `You’re old and you’re playing against guys half your age. You shouldn’t be out here.’ But then for me that is my goal, to prove that I’m able to do that. And I put in a lot of work in mentally as well as physically just preparing myself.”

Carter says the once-dynamic dunker, a live highlight reel of a player known as “Vinsanity ,” still lives inside him. It’s just different now that he’s been a reserve in stops the last six seasons with Dallas, Memphis and Sacramento.

“Yeah, I’m still the same person,” said Carter, the 1999 NBA Rookie of the Year and an eight-time All-Star. “My approach is still the same. My work ethic, my ability to play the game is still the same. Obviously it’s limited. You just don’t get to see it as much, but it’s the same guy.”

He wanted to play for the Hawks because they offered a chance to earn extra minutes. Atlanta is likely to be among the league’s worst teams this season and will begin training camp Sept. 25 with Taurean Prince, John Collins, Dewayne Dedmon, Kent Bazemore and either Trae Young or Jeremy Lin as its starting five.

Carter says he and new coach Lloyd Pierce have been texting each other frequently since Carter agreed to a contract late last month. They already know what his role will be, to mentor Prince, Collins and Young – the three core players the Hawks are building around – and to lead by example.

He did much of the same last season with the Kings, averaging 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 58 games for a team that finished 27-55.

The Hawks figure to win far fewer games, but Carter believes the long-term plan looks promising.

“The makeup and the makeover of what this organization is trying to do is positive,” Carter said. “It’s in the right direction. We live in a world where we want it right now, but the reality is that sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. The potential is there to put the pieces together. My job is to come in and be like, `Yeah, I might not be here a couple of years but if I can help lay some foundation and some ideas to lead them in the right direction, that’s what I’m going to do.’ ”

Carter isn’t the oldest player to ever play for the Hawks. Kevin Willis, Carter’s teammate in Toronto from 1998-2001, spent his first nine-plus seasons in Atlanta before returning at 42. The Hawks went 13-69 and had the NBA’s worst record.

If something that bad happens again, Carter says he won’t complain. For years he’s passed up on chances to sign with a contender and chase that championship ring he never won.

And it’s not like he needs the money after earning over $160 million in his career .

“To just sit on the end of the bench, I just can’t do that,” he said. “That’s just not who I am. I guess I’ve been around long enough, and what’s engrained in me and what’s been instilled in me, that’s not my thing.”

Carter describes himself as a longtime veteran who has a coach’s mentality but doesn’t want to coach.

“I love to play, man,” he said. “I have a young guy’s mentality with a 40-year-old body.”

And a potential Hall of Fame candidate who has his eyes set on becoming the NBA’s next broadcaster with a household name. He’s already worked as a guest analyst for NBA Summer League and high-profile youth games.

TNT could be his next step.

“I have a fear of when it’s over not being prepared for the next phase,” Carter said. “Now that I’m nearing the end, whenever that is, I want to make sure when that door is closed and I leave my basketball shoes in the gym or where I choose to leave them, I’m ready for the next phase.”

More AP basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.