As I look over the analysis of the trades made by the Orlando Magic the other day, I see one begged question which has yet to be addressed. This is a lexical question, and an answer for it has implications for all others of a kind. The question is: Are the Phoenix Suns trading for Vince Carter, or the contract of Vince Carter? ‘The contract of Vince Carter,’ as a noun phrase, has different connotations than ‘Vince Carter’ does. The phenomenon of someone becoming their contract in a salary-cap system is well established. What is the criteria though? Where is the line?
The criteria would likely be one of two things. One possibility is that he becomes his contract, for diction purposes, when he becomes his contract for trade purposes, and that this happens when the value of the contract details outweigh the value of the player. The other possibility is that he becomes his contract, for diction purposes, when people associate the value of his contract sufficiently with him to mention it that way.
I would contend that by either criterion ‘the contract of Vince Carter’ is now the appropriate choice, but it could be argued that Steve Kerr believes Carter will again score over 20 a game with Nash hooking him up, and that that means he does not meet the first criteria. As a linguistic argument, this is possible. As a basketball argument, however, it is clearly nonsense. However negative your opinion of Kerr, there is simply no way that he somehow failed to notice that Vince was losing minutes on a floundering team, and that he is averaging fewer points than the half season in Toronto in which he wasn’t trying.