Talk about your unsettled situations.

Surrounding himself with kids at his annual weeklong basketball camp is the only normal thing about this summer for Vince Carter, who has reached a stage where you can only throw your hands in the air and say, "Who knows?"

The NBA is in lockout mode -- no team activities whatsoever until a new collective bargaining agreement is hatched. If and when that happens (most suspect later rather than sooner), Carter will have to wait and see if the Phoenix Suns care to retain his services (the insiders say that's questionable, at best). And by the way, he's 34, which, by NBA standards means he should be wearing Velcro sneakers and spying early-bird specials.

In fact, Carter can only think of a handful of guys who, like him, have now been part of two NBA lockouts -- this one and the 1998-99 lockout that shortened his rookie season. By pro basketball standards, it's sorta like meeting a guy who fought in both world wars.

"This time is different," Carter said Wednesday during a midday break at his Vince Carter Basketball Academy at Mainland High.

It sure is. Last time, he knew where he was going and what would be asked of him once the games began. This time, well, who knows?

"It's just a waiting game," he said, stating the obvious. "It's a tough position to be in."

"Tough," of course, is relative. It's tough for anyone to be in the dark as far as their work future, but it must help to know the bills will be paid. Assuming the Suns pass on picking up the final year of Carter's deal, at a whopping $18.9 million, Carter will reportedly still walk away with a $4 million buyout, and also be free to shop for a new employer.