NEW YORK - It's the question of the year for the Nets. They have Kevin Durant. They have Kyrie Irving. Do the Nets need a third superstar, or can they win a championship as-is?
Kevin Garnett already told The Daily News he'd pull off a trade for Bradley Beal or Zach LaVine.
Vince Carter said otherwise.
Instead of trading for a third star, Carter believes the third star was already on the roster - and no, it's not Caris LeVert or Spencer Dinwiddie.
"You've gotta be careful. It's a slippery slope when you're putting guys together," Carter told The News earlier in the week. "I feel like you could have a third star in somebody like DeAndre Jordan who can shine. He's not somebody who's gonna get a lot of touches, but what does he do? He puts a lot of pressure on the defense going to the rim."
At 32 years old, Jordan is still a lob threat.
In the first season of his four-year, $40 million contract, Jordan averaged eight points and 10 rebounds coming off the bench in all but six games of the regular season. He was named the full-time starter two games before the NBA's coronavirus hiatus. In the first of those two games, he finished with 11 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three blocks, playing an integral role in a win over the Chicago Bulls.
"I just feel like you have to find the right pieces if you're gonna go get a third scorer," Carter said. "If you're gonna go get three guys who really demand the ball, that gets tough after a while. One, if not two guys of your Big 3, tend to become unhappy sometimes. If they buy into that, then it's a possibility. If they don't, then a Big 3 doesn't work. You just have three big names who really can't co-exist because they all want to be alpha dogs. I think that's the biggest thing. You have to bring a Big 3 that can coexist and complement each other.
"I feel like a guy like DeAndre Jordan, somebody like that putting pressure on the rim. It's not enough basketballs out there if you put three big names out there on the floor, so it takes a lot to think about."
Carter also said the return of Irving and welcome addition of Durant made Jordan more dangerous than he was in his first year in Brooklyn.
"Because (the Nets) have a lot of shooters and scorers, maybe you can't help with the big off of (Jordan) because he's a lob threat," he said. "And then if he's the lob threat, guess what? I'm putting Joe Harris on the back side. Are you gonna help on the lob or let me throw the swing pass to Joe Harris who's led the league in three-point percentage?"
Carter likened the Nets as currently constructed to the Lakers.
"I want to see them work together because now I kind of look at them like Anthony Davis and LeBron James. If Kevin Durant is rolling and a team sends the double, well guess who gets the ball now? Kyrie Irving," he said laughing. "And then you have a bunch of shooters and a bunch of young guys who play hard. I think because they have a lot of talent, it's going to allow them to play more freely."
Here's the thing: After James and Davis, the Lakers scramble to find a reliable third scorer. Some nights it's Alex Caruso. Some nights, Kyle Kuzma. In the playoffs, Rajon Rondo has been an impact player. The Lakers can be a mixed bag. It's a gift and a curse. You can try to force Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to beat you in a game.
The potential difference between the Lakers and a healthy Nets team? Taking the ball out of Durant or Irving's hands will put it in the hands of LeVert, Dinwiddie or Harris.
"You can't just say, 'hey we're gonna let somebody else beat us' when Spencer Dinwiddie is the other guy getting the ball and creating in one-on-ones," Carter said. "Or Joe Harris is the weak-side guy coming out of the double team getting 3s. Or the young guy out of Michigan. That's what I'm saying. You now create opportunities for these 2 superstars, elite superstars to be great while everybody else can have the opportunity to shine as well."
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