Carter has season-ending surgery

The Toronto Raptors will have to reach the playoffs without Vince Carter.

Carter, 25, underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Tuesday and will sit out the rest of this season.

Raptors physician Dr. Paul Marks performed the 20 minute procedure and found minor inflammation in the joint lining.

"Everything went very well today," Marks said. "We're very pleased with the surgery and Vince is doing well.

Though Tuesday's surgery corrected the problem with Carter's left knee joint, it does not necessarily guarantee a pain-free future.

"We're trying to do what we can to stop this from re-occurring," Marks said. "It may not be possible to eliminate it all together."

Of secondary concern is the structural state of Carter's left quadriceps tendon, which has formed some scar tissue.

"There's some inflammation inside the knee and evidence problems with the tendon," said fellow team physician Dr. Douglas Richards. "We don't actually know which of those was contributing what percentage to his symptoms.

"Once of the issues with rehabilitating tendons as opposed to muscle is that tendons respond much more slowly to exercise. A tendon injury is a much more thorough program that is measured in months, not weeks, so the off-season provides the ideal opportunity to do that and he really needs that."

Carter currently ranks seventh in NBA scoring at 24.7 points per game, despite playing in obvious discomfort ever since straining his left quadriceps early in an 80-74 road win over the San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 7.

The injury forced the superstar forward to skip the All-Star Game and Toronto's next seven games -- all losses.

Carter returned on February 24, scoring 28 points in a 101-92 home loss to the Seattle SuperSonics, but his mobility and trademark explosiveness were noticeably limited.

With Carter less than 100 per cent, the Raptors went 2-and-9 before he was shut down last Friday.

Despite winning both its games since, Toronto has dropped 17 of 20 since the all-star break and sits three games back of the Indiana Pacers and the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

At 32-38, the Raptors need to win nine of their remaining 12 games just to reach the .500 plateau, much less the playoffs.

"We're looking for him to be out for the remainder of the regular season," Marks said of Carter. "We're planning an active rehabilitation program in conjunction with the head trainer that's going to involve the spring and summer right up until camp."

Mere minutes after being drafted fifth overall by the Golden State Warriors on June 24, 1998, Carter was traded to Toronto for the rights to Antawn Jamison and cash.

He has averaged 24.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 39.8 minutes in 60 games this season.

Carter has averaged 24.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.1 blocked shots and 38.4 minutes in 267 games over four NBA seasons, all with Toronto.