Magic hoping Frank can help

ORLANDO, Fla. -- If Vince Carter was looking to get back to his old form, he only had to look to the bleachers during the Orlando Magic's shootaround Tuesday for a reminder of those times.

Former New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank was in attendance and will be observing practices this week, offering advice to the Magic staff. The biggest assistance might come with Carter, mired in a month-long shooting slump that ranks among the worst in the eight-time All-Star's career.

Carter said he welcomes suggestions from his former coach after a "brutal" month.

"I knew he was coming," Carter said. "I've talked to him a few times. Happy to see him, even though he brought the rain."

Frank coached Carter for five years until the shooting guard was traded to the Magic last offseason, along with Ryan Anderson. The Nets fired Frank in November after an 0-16 start.

Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy insisted Frank was invited months ago as a friend and his appearance has nothing to do with Carter's struggles.

"I just wanted him to come down and share some knowledge with us and share some thoughts, get a different perspective," Van Gundy said. "He's a guy I've always had respect for and liked, so have him around and see if we can learn something."

The timing might indicate otherwise.

Carter has been nursing what trainers have called a "mild separation" in his left shoulder. He scored a season-low two points in a win at Detroit on Sunday and didn't even play in the fourth quarter, a trend that is beginning to form with the Magic opting for J.J. Redick late in games.

Carter, who turned 33 on Jan. 26, has never been happier to see the calendar flip to February.

"Brutal, brutal, brutal month," he said. "I used to consider January a pretty easy month because it's my birthday. But it was tough."

That might be an understatement.

He began Tuesday shooting a career-low 38 percent. He's just 5 for 28 shooting in the past three games, and the once-confident shooter is passing up shots and has become almost a complete non-factor offensively since a Christmas Day loss to Boston.

After a few misses early against the Celtics last Thursday night, he was showered with boos by some fans for the first time since he put on a Magic uniform. That was hardly the type of homecoming Carter, who grew up 45 minutes away in Daytona Beach and has made his home in Orlando for years, could have expected.

"Every great player goes through slumps," Anderson said. "He knows exactly what he needs to do to break out of it. I don't really think what anybody says is going to change what he has in his mind."

This Magic have still managed to rebound despite Carter's slump.

They've won six of their past seven -- including big wins against Boston and Atlanta last week -- to move into second place in the Eastern Conference.

But after parting ways with Hedo Turkoglu -- who led the Magic in scoring in the NBA Finals last year, when they lost to the Lakers in five games -- Orlando made the move for Carter, expecting him to be the missing piece to a championship.

Instead, the go-to scorer the Magic hoped for has been on the bench or rendered ineffective in the fourth quarter. Players said that will have to change if the team wants to get past teams such as Cleveland, Boston and the Lakers in the playoffs.

"We traded for Vince for him to be our guy," Redick said. "And we're going to need him to be that guy for us to accomplish the things we want as a team. That's no secret. We need Vince."