Tracy McGrady recently cited a rumor that has been making the basketball rounds: that the NBA central office is somehow conspiring to get Vince Carter to play for a major US market like NY, Chicago, or LA. Now McGrady is young, so I will give essentially no weight to his opinion in this matter. But, many people have been this (NBAtalk has a poll in which roughly 53% of respondents think the NBA is trying to push Carter out of Toronto). Who here believes it and what can be said in this theory's defense?
Here are my arguments against it:
(1) The NBA sought out Vancouver and Toronto for expansion franchises. I doubt they wanted to expand into Canada just to have the teams there fail -- in revenue, in popularity, or on the court. I'd think they'd love having Vince Carter in Toronto because it helps them shore up their foothold in Canada.
(2) The NBA is powerless to move him anyway, so what would their conspiracy do? The Raptors' owner is obviously going to want to keep Carter and sees the profit in it. He can offer more than any other team and there is no doubt that Carter will be given the max when the time comes. The Raptors' franchise won't commit economic suicide just because Big Brother told them to.
(3) I don't think the NBA Board of Governor's would stand for it. Stern and Co. are answerable to the 29 franchises for their jobs. If Stern did victimize one small-market team, won't all the other small-market teams have to consider, 'what if I had had Carter?'
(4) Large market teams will probably have a good draw regardless of who plays for them -- as long as they are not complete losers (Clippers). Chicago has surprisingly good attendance for a team that was the second worst in the league. I think it would be best for the long-term success of the league if the smaller-market teams were able to cultivate a strong fan-base, centered around specific players if need be.