Get Carter

Rhys Carter just joined his seventh NBL team in thirteen years, but despite the practice he’s had, he hasn’t mastered moving cities.

“You never really get good at it,” Carter told Downtown this week. “First week of training and preseason, you’re tired and [have] sore legs, and you’ve got to go and look at houses all afternoon. So it’s not ideal.”

He does have help, though, with his Swedish wife working wonders at the world’s largest furniture retailer.

“My wife is good at going to IKEA,” Carter laughed.

(For the record, this is not Rhys and Louise Carter)

After over a decade of moving around, Carter has become adept at fitting in with new teams. His two NBL championships, with the South Dragons in 2009 and the New Zealand Breakers this year, came during his first season with those clubs. He also made the grand final with Perth in 2013 and Adelaide in 2014 after joining those teams midseason.

For those playing along at home, Carter is the only player in NBL history to play in three consecutive Grand Finals for three different clubs.

Now the Sydney Kings – Carter’s latest home and a club that’s 52-90 since re-entering the league in 2010 – will be hoping his run of success at a new team continues.

It wasn’t Carter’s plan to move around so much.

He started his pro career with the Victoria Giants in the 2002-03 season. Carter, who’s from Sale in Victoria, was close to family and friends, and said he would’ve been happy playing his whole career with the Giants had they continued to exist.

He had a break from the league in 2004-05, during which he played Australian rules, before landing at the West Sydney Razorbacks. He spent three seasons there, his longest run with an NBL club.

“Every team I’ve played for, I would’ve been happy to stay, and I wanted to stay,” said Carter, who’s also played in Sweden.

“The last five years or so, from Perth to Adelaide to even New Zealand, the team really needs to lock in their best six players and that takes up a certain amount of the salary cap and the points cap.”

Carter said his exits from Perth in 2013 and Adelaide in 2014 were related to the player points system. The Breakers offered Carter another contract this year, but the deal wasn’t lucrative enough considering his family has a second child on the way.

That led him back to Sydney for the Kings’ 2015-16 campaign.

“Ideally, I’d love to stay here as well as long as I can and get settled.”

Carter has played with three of his new Kings teammates previously: Jason Cadee, Julian Khazzouh and Steven Markovic.

“You come into a place like this and feel at home after three days, because of old faces and guys I’ve played with before,” said Carter.

His on-court role in Sydney should be similarly familiar – one that’s based on defence. He wants to defend the opposition’s best scoring guard, which he’ll be able to focus on given the teammates he’ll have around him.

With Josh Childress and Julian Khazzouh, who are proven NBL scorers, and Marcus Thornton, an NBA draftee who averaged 20 points per game last season for William and Mary, Carter shouldn’t be overworked on offence.

“When you’ve got so many good players that are drawing a lot of people, I’ll be able to probably hide in the corners and get a few open shots here and there,” he said. “Until I busted my finger last year, I was shooting the ball really well, and I feel like I’m shooting well again now.”

Carter’s experience in big games could also be part of his role with Sydney, a team that has played five straight losing seasons and has made the playoffs once since re-joining the NBL. Aside from Dion Prewster, who was a development player with the Breakers when they won the title in 2011-12, Carter is the only King with an NBL championship.

For Sydney to make the playoffs and have success there, it’ll likely need a rousing individual performance in a significant game along the way. And for someone with a career average of 6.2 points per game, Carter is disproportionately familiar with delivering such performances.

See the first-versus-second clash between the Dragons and Breakers in January 2009 when Carter had 25 points, sent the game to overtime with a free throw and hit the game-winning three in the extra frame.

Or game one of the Semi Final in 2014 when he swung the match for Adelaide with his three-point shooting and defence on Melbourne’s Chris Goulding.

Or, of course, this year’s Grand Final opener when, on the road, his 10-point fourth quarter quelled Cairns’ comeback and helped New Zealand to a series lead they didn’t relinquish.

For the Kings to give Rhys a chance to perform in such high-profile games, they’ll have to win frequently in the regular season – meaning they’ll have to be much better than last season’s 9-19 team.

A major improvement is feasible given it’ll be a majorly different roster – only Cadee, Childress, Angus Brandt and Tom Garlepp are returning for coach Damian Cotter’s second season in charge. But that also means the Kings’ won’t enjoy the continuity that New Zealand, Perth, Cairns and Adelaide will.

“We think we have got what it takes to make the playoffs and make the finals and go all the way, but there’s probably five other teams that think the same thing,” said Carter.

“But if we can get there, I love that stage.”

Sydney fans can take comfort in that, at least for however long Carter is in town.

Article written by

Please comment with your real name using good manners.

Leave a Reply