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Vinsane In The Membrane No Longer

Vince Carter isn't the Vince Carter the Grizzlies need for the playoffs.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since Vince Carter's struggles at the beginning of the season, the sentiment has been that he will come around when it matters. Well, the playoffs are just around the corner, and there's still no sign of the Vince Carter the Grizzlies signed up for. And it's time for a change, or the Grizzlies are going to be in big trouble.

When Vince Carter was signed to his three-year, $12 million contract, he was considered the sixth man the Grizzlies desperately needed. The former Maverick was going to bring Vinsanity to Memphis, and though there have been fleeting moments when Memphis was allowed to be Vinsane in the membrane, his tenure has largely been a disappointment. It's time for Coach Dave Joerger to do something about it.

At the beginning of the season Carter was slowed by an off-season ankle procedure. He started the season on the bench, and when he returned he looked like a guy who was recovering from an off-season surgery. He struggled into December, but he showed flashes of what he could bring to the table. The occasional highlight dunk or swished three gave hope that he would be the guy he was in Dallas. Then a ligament injury in his foot knocked him out for a month, and hope was lost. When he returned, he showed small signs of life, but there has since been little evidence to suggest that he will do much to help the Grizzlies in the playoffs.

Besides a few weeks earlier in the season, Carter has been a negative on the offensive end. He's an offensive disaster only registering a 94 offensive rating this season. The plays the Grizzlies draw up for him require him to run around screens and past defenders. Unfortunately, he's too slow to get open quickly enough for the Grizzlies' plays to be successful. The few times he is open, nothing good happens. Instead of delivering thunderous dunks, he's struggling to get layups off. Now, he can't get his feet under him enough to get the ball to the rim so jumpshots result in airballs or misses off the front of the rim. He has actually airballed some shots so badly that they've fallen into hands of a waiting Zach Randolph.

The Grizzlies brought Vince Carter in to spread the floor. Instead, he's taking and missing ill-advised shots. His decision-making has improved since the foot injury that sidelined him for about a month, but Carter's shooting the ball the worse than he ever has in his 17-year career, with a field goal percentage of 33.8%. The player that has been hailed for evolving and becoming a three point threat is shooting 30.8% from behind the arch which is the second worst in his career. His true shooting percentage of .451% is the lowest of his career. 44% of his three point attempts are catch and shoot shots, which the Grizzlies desperately need the shooting guard to hit, and he's only shooting 32% on those shots. On three point attempts in which the closest defender is within 6 feet of him, he's shooting 29.8%.

The respect that has been there for Carter an evolving three point threat has completely disappeared, and it's only going to get worse in the playoffs. Opponents will be able to pack the paint with Carter out on the floor and disrupt what the Grizzlies paint play. Any of the usual wing combinations the Grizzlies have with Carter won't provide enough spacing or defense for Memphis to find the amount of playoff success the team and city are looking for.

I've been hoping that Vince was going to turn it around come playoff time, but that just hasn't happened. The whole season, it's been repeated, "He'll come around for the playoffs". Everyone has said it. It's not going to happen at this point. He's been bad all season and most likely will continue to struggle in the playoffs.

The defense of the eight-time All-Star has been a bright spot at times this season but has taken a hit lately. He's not moving his feet side to side, and he can't come to a complete stop to force a defender off the three point line or into a driving lane. He's actually fallen over a few times when trying to come to a complete stop on defense. Kosta Koufos is able to shore up the defensive shortcomings of the bench most of the time, but a Carter/Udrih backcourt doesn't make his job any easier.

It wasn't a mistake to sign Vince Carter, but it is a mistake to keep playing him. Taking a chance on a veteran that could have contributed when healthy was a great risk for the Grizzlies to take. But continuing to play him when isn't 100% and only hurts your playoff chances isn't even a calculated risk; it simply makes no sense. It was a mistake to play Carter at the expense of developing Jordan Adams. Plain and simple. Now the Grizzlies have no playoff-ready shooter off the bench. The return of Tony Allen will improve the situation, but right now the Grizzlies are forced to play Carter or take a chance with Nick Calathes playing minutes at the backup wing spot.

It sucks that we are watching the end of Vince Carter, but that's exactly what's happening. I don't think I'd be the only one would be more excited to see Vince Carter in the booth announcing Grizzly playoff wins than depressing the hell out of everyone he mystified so many years ago. I don't know if it's time for him to hang up the sneaks for good, but he should for the rest of the season.

(stats provided by NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com)