DeMarre Carroll has created quite the stir with his comments about the Toronto Raptors after being traded in a pure salary dump move to the Brooklyn Nets. When the Toronto Sun’s Ryan Wolstat reported Carroll’s words “ISO” they brought to the surface some deep passions in parts of the Raptors fan base.
“I wasn’t surprised because I knew it was a lot of things going on last year that didn’t come out,” Carroll told Postmedia on Sunday in his first interview following the deal.
“I wasn’t happy, my agent, we thought the style of ball was going to be different, it was going to be more team-oriented, but I guess it was still ISO (isolation), so I thought they would have moved me last year, but that didn’t happen.”
However, Carroll knew exactly what he was getting into when he quickly agreed to sign with the Raptors in the summer of 2015 while the Detroit Pistons were waiting to talk to him in the hotel lobby.
“Toronto came and we had a lengthy meeting and we kind of went back-and-forth and we got a deal done,” Carroll said about his first meeting in free agency. “But Detroit was in the hotel waiting to have their meeting, so I felt kind of bad to tell all those teams I wasn’t going to visit, but at the same time, it’s a business. I think the business of basketball is what’s best for the individual and that’s what I did.”
Carroll wanted to win and he knew his best chance at winning was to join a playoff team with a couple of All-Stars where he would have a role.
“That was very big,” Carroll responded to Pro Bball Report about joining a winning team in July 2015. “I was drooling at the mouth just to play along aside of guys like Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Those are two All-Star guys and they bring a lot. When I used to guard DeMar, he’s one of the toughest guys because of his ability to put the ball in the hoop at a very rapid pace.
“So it was really just a sign to come to a winning program and to help this team as much as I can.”
Carroll knew what his role was going to be and he embraced it. It was his job to defend. DeRozan was going to be set free to score more.
“I actually told DeMar, I said now you don’t have to fight with those big guys like LeBron James and Kevin Durant no more, you can just go out there and take this team to the promised land.”
Things didn’t go as planned for Carroll in Toronto. A knee injury suffered with the Hawks in the just completed postseason run to the Conference Final came back to knock him out of 56 games in 2015-16 and he was never really 100 percent even after he came back.
The 2016-17 season started with knee soreness that hung around until the new year. Then just as he was putting a solid stretch of games together, he was accidentally kicked in the head as he fell and he wasn’t really the same the rest of the way. Even Carroll had to admit he wasn’t the same guy after it happened.
“I really didn’t have the whole summer to workout like most guys, so at the end of the day I am trying to get my rhythm and everything thru the season,” Carroll told Pro Bball Report in February. “My knee is great (now). I got nicks and bruises, finger and elbow, but the knee’s great, so I just got to keep pushing.
“I am slowly getting there. It’s not only physical, it’s mental. I’m trying to come back and missing shots and my finger and everything and all this, but now I am feeling more comfortable. Hopefully going into the playoffs I’ll be playing the best basketball.”
He never really got all the way back in time for the playoffs.
Carroll ended the season coming off the bench in the second round playing fewer minutes each night. That had to be a very tough way to end the season for this very proud player.
However, it didn’t take very long after the trade to Brooklyn for Carroll to get back on the positive vibe he felt for Toronto two years ago. In a courtside interview at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, he had a very positive outlook for the Raptors future once again
“(The Raptors) have talent. They definitely have the talent (to get by the Cavs),” Carroll said. “Coach Casey, he tries his best to get the best out of his guys and Masai (Ujiri) brings in a lot of talent to go around those two All-Stars Kyle and DeMar, so they have the talent. Just have to try to put it all together.
“Biggest key, especially for Toronto is just being healthy going into the playoffs. I feel like each year wasn’t healthy. It kind of made our run short.”
He’s not wrong.
Carroll knew from the start he was joining a team where the best players are “ISO” players and he knew his role was to provide defense so they would have more freedom to do what they do best. It was just unfortunate that he was never physically healthy enough to do his part. It’s no reflection on Carroll, he tried. It just didn’t work out.
Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson