DeMarre Carroll is averaging 7.1 points and 4.1 rebounds this season. He’s shooting 35.8 percent from the field and 29.1 percent from three. After an injury-plagued season last year that held him to 26 games in the regular season and 20 playoff games in which he struggled through, there were encouraging signs this pre-season the 30-year-old was returning to the healthy, productive version that was a huge part of Atlanta’s 2015 run to the Eastern Conference Finals, a push that earned Carroll a four-year, $60 million deal with Toronto.
That has not been the case so far this season. Even when healthy and playing, Carroll has looked slow, and Norman Powell has emerged as a more reliable option to close games, with his ability to guard multiple positions and as a three-point threat on the other end of the floor. On Saturday, Carroll sat out against the Knicks on the second half of a back-to-back. He sat out again last night against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. The Raptors say there’s a plan to manage his minutes going forward. The Raptors have enough depth to overcome the loss of Carroll, or the absence of a productive one, but he was a crucial piece of Ujiri’s puzzle to assembling a contender. Not having Carroll at full strength strips away a piece of that.
So, are there reasons to think putting Carroll on a rest plan will help nurture him back to something closer to the player which resembled his ‘15 Hawks version? I’m not sure, and that uncertainty is a little concerning. With two years left on the deal, if Carroll can’t be a starter on this team, a power forward in small lineups, the team’s top perimeter defender, there’s plenty of trickle down effects that while the team can use the rest of the roster to hide during the regular season, will come into play once the playoffs begin (I would like to acknowledge how great it is to already be thinking about potential playoff impact of things in November).
Carroll unlocks a variety of lineup combinations and can be such a presence on defense that not having him at full strength will be a huge detriment to this team. Not to mention: if this doesn’t turn around, the Raptors will have still gone their entire franchise history without a major free agent signing working out (seriously, go and check, I’ll wait). That’s not to say that Carroll is Hedo Turkoglu 2.0. The circumstances of why both players are underperforming are vastly different, although I can’t help but draw the parallel that they were both players who built up their value over a deep playoff run (Turkoglu with the Magic, Carroll with the Hawks) and then came to Toronto and couldn’t deliver on those same expectations.
I guess I haven’t answered the central question: is DeMarre Carroll done? I don’t know, really. And that’s the scary part.