To say DeMarre Carroll’s career as a Raptor has not gone according to plan is, well, we’re running out of exhausted adjectives to use here. After signing with Toronto last season, Carroll hobbled through a seemingly endless stream of injuries (and one knee surgery), played in a mere 26 regular season games and 20 playoff games, before finally — finally — giving his broken down body a rest. The season took its toll on him.
Carroll’s bad luck with injuries hung over the Raptors season in a bizarre way. Despite his absence, the Raptors finished with franchise-record 56 wins, and made a remarkable run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Carroll pitched in some, but there was always room to ask: how much better can Toronto be with Carroll working at his peak?
Naturally, in advance of the 2016-17 season, Carroll was asked about his off-season recovery, the work being done on his knee, and how he’s feeling in advance of year two in Toronto. Fortunately, the vibe was all positive.
“I’m in a good place. I see we’re progressing in the right way. It’s going in the right way. My rehab training is going in the right way,” said Carroll on Media Day. “I’m happy. Because if you had asked me that same question last year, I probably would be sad or mad. It’s one of those things, you’ve just gotta trust the process, and trust the leaders of the process.”
When pushed for details on said process, Carroll provided a rough timeline. First, there was a solid month off to let his knee subside — “It was pretty big,” Carroll said. Then, after seeing doctors, the physical rehab began in earnest to get his strength back. This included some time down in Las Vegas with Raptors’ brass during Summer League and, as Carroll described it, “a lot of workouts, a lot of cutting, a lot of drills, everything.”
With that ongoing, Carroll admitted he just restarted playing basketball last week, the apparent next step in his rehab process. On the face of it, this is crazy to hear, as Raptors training camp gets underway and there’s just a month to go before the start of the regular season. But more important milestones are keeping everybody smiling anyway. “Actually, that’s what we’re so happy about right now,” said Carroll. “No swelling.”
So the work in progress continues, even if Carroll won’t put a specific timeline on the process. He acknowledged he’s not quite all the way back, and still perhaps a step or two behind where he was when he earned that $60 million contract from the Raptors. Of course, one of the things that drew Toronto to Carroll in the first place is his work ethic, which continues to pay dividends. There’s no question as to whether he’ll keep trying to improve.
“We’re just working every day,” said Carroll. “Feel like it’s getting better every day. I’m just happy I’m able to get back on the court to play. I’ll be 100 percent for sure sometime, but I don’t know when.”
Here’s hoping it all comes together soon.