Vince Carter's departure from the Toronto Raptors occurred just two days after general manager Rob Babcock was informed the superstar may have tried to sabotage a game a month ago.
The Seattle News Tribune reports that Babcock pulled off a deal with the New Jersey Nets less than 48 hours after being interviewed for a story about Carter's rumoured actions in a game against the Seattle SuperSonics on Nov. 19.
According to the paper, Carter tipped off a play to the Sonics bench during the final minute of the Raptors 101-94 loss to Seattle in Toronto.
Babcock told reporters that the rumour and trade were unrelated.
"If a player was to go down and intentionally tell a team a play that we were definitely going to run, you'd better win the game," Babcock said Sunday before the Raptors played the New Jersey Nets.
The Raptors traded Carter to the Nets on Friday for Alonzo Mourning, Aaron Williams, Eric Williams and two first-round draft picks.
With 29 seconds remaining in the game, the Raptors called a timeout. According to the Sonics, Carter returned from the huddle and lined up along the edge of the key. Before the play began, he said directly to the Seattle bench, "It's a flare. It's a flare."
The Raptors then ran a flare play.
Three members of the Sonics confirmed Carter tried to tip them off.
In the play, Raptors Matt Bonner sets a screen for Carter, who then runs toward the opposite corner. In this instance, Carter didn't handle the ball cleanly and passed the ball to Bonner, who hit a 22-foot shot from the top of the key.
Sonics forward Ray Allen was guarding Carter in the game.
"I didn't hear it, but that's what those other guys were saying (after the game) " Allen told the News Tribune. "But all I said was, 'Why would he do that?' I don't know why he would do that."
Sonics forward Reggie Evans was on the bench during the play.
"I'm not scared of Vince or nothing like that, but that is between him and his conscience," Evans said. "I'm not saying it did happen or it didn't happen."
Some of Carter's former teammates downplayed the report.
"I think that's a lie," Raptors guard Jalen Rose said after Sunday's 110-99 win over the New Jersey Nets. "To be honest it's just so ironic that a statement like that happens to come out a day after the guy gets traded.
"The timing of this is the worst it could be."
Added sophomore Chris Bosh "Telling the other team a play, that's ridiculous. I refuse to believe that, how silly is that?
"I don't think any player in the NBA would do that, give the other team any kind of advantage in a game-winning situation. That's not professional at all."
with files from Canadian Press