A great teammate, voice of experience and mentor.

That’s what the Kings knew they were getting when they signed Vince Carter in July.

Carter’s been all that, even while out injured. More than one King credits a conversation with Carter with helping them through a rough stretch, some of those discussions happened while Carter was away from the team recovering from kidney stones.

The question is can Carter, 40, do all of that while not playing?

“It’s tough to do that,” Carter said.

He’s right, too. If the Kings wanted Carter to be a coach, they would have offered him a job on the coaching staff for considerably less than the $8 million he’ll earn this season.

Carter understands his role, and it’s one that’s hard to do if he never sees the floor.

“It’s not about putting the ball in the basket for me, I know I can do that,” Carter said. “It’s all about helping these guys play the right way so if I can move the ball and talk us through things on the court, that’s what I’m going to do, and I can make a difference when I’m on the court that way. That’s how I look at the game.”

So if that’s what Carter is here for, he certainly can’t do that from the sidelines.

“He’s here to play,” coach Dave Joerger said. “He’s a competitor and we brought him in for that purpose, as well as helping our young guys on and off the court.”

There are many who argue Carter’s 11.7 minutes per game could go to Justin Jackson, Malachi Richardson or any of the Kings’ first- or second-year players. But if the team is to have any credibility in getting better and keeping the locker room intact, the team can’t just be handed over to the youngsters.