Selected by the Lakers in the second round of the 1980 NBA Draft, Carter appeared in 54 games off the bench the following season. Carter struggled during his rookie season, prompting the Lakers to trade him to Indiana in exchange for a future third-round draft pick.
The Ohio native went on to play five more seasons before retiring in 1986. Carter then made his way into the coaching ranks, becoming an assistant coach at Long Beach State in 1989 before becoming an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks under Frank Hamblen and Mike Dunleavy during the 1990s. He then moved to the Toronto Raptors, where he was promoted to head coach during the 1997-98 season. He was fired by the team in 2000. He is the older brother of former NFL wide receiver Cris Carter.