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In an interview with CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos, Raptors GM Masai Ujiri gave his personal thoughts on former Raptor Vince Carter, and shed some light on the organization's stance on its former superstar.
"I hate the notion of guys leaving, and then at the end of their career, and come back and ask to be forgiven. Vince, for me, is different. I think he is one of the symbols of the Toronto Raptors, whether you like it or not. Yes he left, and the issues there, but all these young players coming up, they grew up watching Vince Carter."
Ujiri also added that Raptors franchise CEO Tim Leiweke, with the consent of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, met with Carter in March when his Mavericks were in town to take on the Toronto Raptors. Ujiri, who wasn't present in the meeting, said that the chat "went well", and the Raptors "showed him that, or we’re trying to show him that this [organization] is new, open thinking and, in the future, we’re definitely [going to] think openly."
“If (Toronto) gave me the opportunity, I don’t even think I’d let them finish the question. Yes. I’m in,” Carter said. When asked if he could envision a potential reunion, Carter added “Could I see it? Absolutely. I’d leave that up to the franchise. It all started in Toronto, I’d be a fool to ever forget that.”
Vince Carter, 37, is an unrestricted free agent this off-season. As currently constructed, the Raptors will have more than enough cap room to accommodate a potential reunion.
Carter spent seven seasons as a member of the Toronto Raptors. During that time, Carter posted per-game averages of 23.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.3 steals, and was named to the All-Star game for six straight seasons between 2000-2005. In the context of franchise history, Carter ranks third in total minutes played, second in total points scored, and fifth in total rebounds and total assists.
It's worth noting that the Raptors fanbase's collective opinion is still split on the part of Carter, who is routinely booed by some in his returns to Toronto. Although the hostility has cooled in recent years, Carter is still despised by many for his decision to force a trade out of Toronto in 2005.
Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Action Images