NEW YORK » Being traded is a completely foreign experience for Anthony Carter. But the University of Hawaii product isn’t exactly complaining about his recent move to New York.
Carter, who played for the Rainbows from 1996 to ’98, was part of the three-team, 12-player blockbuster on Feb. 22 that sent Carmelo Anthony from the Nuggets to the Knicks. So far, the 35-year-old guard has played in eight games for his new team and is averaging 4.3 points and 2.6 rebounds.
"My time here has been great," he said. "It’s still in the transition stage, but I think we’re jelling together pretty quick. It’s just a great experience, playing in a New York Knicks uniform and trying to make a difference on this team."
He was one of five players who came over from the Mile High City, a deal that not only generated much around the league but more importantly, in the basketball-crazy Big Apple.
"Hopefully we can make a difference in the city, on the team and everything. That was my first time ever being traded in my whole career," Carter said. "It was just a different experience and I’m enjoying it."
Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni likes the skill set and experience that the 11-year NBA veteran can bring to his team.
"When Chauncey (Billups) went out, he was able to fill a role and just be a good energy force off the bench. He’s changed some games just by his will," D’Antoni said. "He’s also great in the locker room and film room. It’s great to have him."
Only longtime teammate Chauncey Billups, who also came over from Denver in the Anthony deal, has more NBA experience than the ex-Rainbow. That veteran leadership is one big reason why New York wanted him included in the deal.
"That’s what I can bring," Carter said. "I just have to be solid on the offensive end, on the defensive end and try to show (rookie) Toney (Douglas) a few things when he’s going through a tough time and make sure I keep talking to him. I just try to keep everybody positive."
After going undrafted in 1998, he caught on in Miami and spent his first four seasons in south Florida. In 2000, he was part of a Heat team that fell to the Knicks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
But he never thought he’d be playing in New York.
"No, I never thought that," Carter said. "My first couple of years when I was with Miami and playing against the Knicks in those brutal playoffs, I never thought I’d be in a Knicks uniform but it does feel great, especially when we went back to Miami (on Feb. 27) and got a win."
The trade also meant he was playing in the Eastern Conference for the first time since the 2002-03 season, his last year in Miami.
"This is way different. I forgot about the time zones in the East," Carter said. "Playing in the West, it was fun but you’ve got to be in a game every night on either coast. It’s just a good experience to get back to the East Coast. Hopefully I can finish my career in New York."
Even though it has been 14 years since he last ran the floor for the Rainbows, it’s an experience he still gets asked about on a daily basis.
"Every day, somebody always asks me what was it like? I tell them that was my second chance to go back to school because I was a high school dropout," Carter said. "Once I got that chance, I wasn’t over there trying to go surfing, hang out on the beach and stuff like that. I went there to focus on my schoolwork, my basketball. I knew I had a chance to make it to the NBA, so that other stuff was out the window for me."
Each summer, he and his family return to the Aloha State. They do so partly because of how welcome everyone makes them feel.
"I do go back in the summertime, just walk around, take the family and enjoy that time over there. It’s always fun to go back to Hawaii," Carter said. "They always show me love when I go back."
And despite taking a somewhat unconventional route to a long NBA career as an undrafted free agent, he looks back on his career to date with nothing but the utmost pride.
"It was a tough route but you’re going to have obstacles in your life. I overcame those," Carter said. "It took me three years of being in high school and playing on the streets. Once I got that second chance, I took advantage of it. You always can’t forget where you came from and what got you there."