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NBA Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll Brooklyn Nets

DeMarre Carroll Credits Ujiri For Finding Him A Soft Landing

Former Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll said some things after he left Toronto that created quite the stir about his former club, but now that he’s comfortably landed in Brooklyn, his tone has softened considerably as reported by Brian Lewis in the New York Post.

 “I give credit to Masai: He helped me find a team,’’ Carroll said.

“Masai is a great guy, a great GM, and at end of the day it was a mutual decision. We talked about it at the end of the season and even before the end of the season.”

Carroll also admitted a lot of his own performance issues in Toronto had nothing to do with the style of play. For all practical purposes, he was hurting the entire time he was there.

“The biggest thing last year was I never got the proper strength. My body wasn’t strong enough to sustain 82 games,’’ Carroll said.

In terms of the Raptors playing more “ISO” ball than suites his particular game, DeMarre did know what he was getting into when he went to Toronto.

 “You got two great All-Stars, two great players. That’s how they play. They were playing that way before I came, and they’re going to be playing that way long after I leave. They’re not changing that for me.”

Apparently Carroll is very happy to be back playing for former Hawks lead assistant coach Kenny Atkinson. Hopefully his injury problems are behind him as well.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

 

NBA Brooklyn Nets DeMarre Carroll

DeMarre Carroll Knew What He Was Getting With The Raptors

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.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

NBA Brooklyn Nets DeMarre Carroll

Raptors Dump DeMarre Carroll In Brooklyn

In one deft move Raptors president Masai Ujiri solved his luxury tax problem with the salary dump of DeMarre Carroll and his remaining $30 million in Brooklyn for the Nets 27-year-old center Justin Hamilton who is owed $3 million on an expiring deal.

Ujiri cuts $11.8 million off his 2017-18 payroll, but he had to give the Nets both a future 2018 first round draft pick and a 2018 second round pick.

Carroll never lived up to his contract in Toronto, largely because of recurring injury issues, however, he is healthy now and it’s possible he returns to the form he showed in Atlanta. But, with the Raptors deep in luxury tax territory, this deal was inevitable even if Ujiri was certain of Carroll’s effectiveness next year.

As usual, Ujiri isn’t coming away completely empty-handed. The 7′ Hamilton has shown the ability to hit a third of his three-point attempts and the Raptors are looking for more shooting. Although Toronto really doesn’t need another center unless someone else is on the way out?

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Minnesota Timberwolves Shabazz Muhammad and Miami Heat James Johnson and Toronto Raptors Patrick Patterson

What Is The Next Shoe To Drop For The Toronto Raptors

It feels like things are stalling out in the NBA for trades and free agency as teams wait on Gordon Hayward and the few remaining free agents with profile to decide where they want to go/ who wants them plus what is likely the inevitable return of Otto Porter to the Wizards after he signs an offer sheet with somebody. But until there’s some clarity, the next shoe to drop for teams like the Toronto Raptors is left hanging up in the air.

The Raptors aren’t the only ones looking to dump salary, the Bucks, Celtics? and likely and handful of other teams are also waiting for the big picture to work itself out as well. Toronto, however, after coming to terms with Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka is in a must deal versus might or would like to deal situation.

Toronto Raptors NBA

It likely isn’t as bad as being $17 million over the luxury tax line in Toronto. The first year salaries of Lowry and Ibaka combined could be about $5 million less than the three-year average, VanVleet is not guaranteed and can still be released, and their first round draft pick isn’t signed/could still be traded, but if paying the tax is a big deal for president Masai Ujiri, he still needs to move at least one of Jonas Valanciunas, DeMarre Carroll or (for a partial tax savings) Cory Joseph.

The most obvious shoe to drop is at point guard.

The Raptors have four and nobody needs four healthy point guards on their roster. The easy solution is to waive the non-guaranteed deal of VanVleet, but he’s a cheap option as a third string backup and Ujiri has been noticed trying to shop the $7.6 million expiring contract of Joseph.

A potential deal with Indiana apparently fell though, but solid young backup point guards are a reasonably valuable commodity. Joseph is trade-able.

Ideally Joseph would be packaged with Carroll or Valanciunas so Ujiri could get something of value back and still dip below tax line.

Even if the fan base couldn’t hold the door open fast enough to help Carroll move on, he is still a useful player at a position of need, assuming he can stay healthy. So, Ujiri can’t be too fussy if it’s his traditional slow-footed rebounding center Valanciunas or the disappointing ‘3-and-D’ forward Carroll who he manages to off load to save the tax. Both players are starters and would have a useful role coming off the bench in what is expected to be a higher scoring small ball focused Raptors rotation next season.

However, if Ujiri can find a way to fill the gaps in the rotation caused by their departure, internally, by way of trade or free agency, then both Valanciunas and Carroll could be on their way out for cheaper options.

While what could come back by way of trade is harder to judge, if Ujiri could move both Carroll and Valanciunas, there are still some interesting options in free agency.

The Timberwolves have withdrawn the qualifying offer from small forward Shabazz Muhammad.

Combo forward James Johnson is available and a known quantity in Toronto.

Patrick Patterson becomes a viable option who knows the Raptors systems and has been a very effective, if at times frustrating, glue guy.

Another option could be Clipper free agent Luc Mbah Moute who evolved into a 39 percent three-point shooter last season.

At this point in free agency, the list of second tier options is long. However, the first step is clearing enough space below the luxury tax line to make room.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Cory Joseph and Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll

Are The Raptors Still Afraid Of The Luxury Tax?

Just ignore the annual comments from whomever the Raptors GM is this year about being willing and able to spend into the Tax, by all appearances, the Raptors are going cheap… again. Maybe we’re jumping to conclusions, but this team is still afraid of the NBA Luxury Tax.

As the negotiations drag out with Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, almost certainly about dollars and length of contract, the Raptors have already lost P.J. Tucker to the Rockets because of what has become their ongoing fear of spending into the tax.

The rumors about Toronto trying to dump salary in order to “make room” under the luxury tax are coming more frequently and gaining credibility.

This is especially disappointing in light of the overwhelming fan support in Toronto which boasted the third highest attendance in the NBA last season and the very deep pockets of their corporate owners (Rogers and Bell own MLSE) where the profit or loss of the Raptors wouldn’t even make a footnote in their annual statement.

If moving out salaries is the only way Masai Ujiri is allowed to re-sign Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, then MLSE has seriously handcuffed the Raptors president.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker and Serge Ibaka

Six Things The Raptors Should Do This Summer

The Toronto Raptors have won over 50 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history and both times they were easily eliminated in the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Everyone is predicting another Cavs – Dubs rematch in the NBA Finals again next year, so, in that light, what are six things the Raptor should be doing this summer?

President Masai Ujiri says the goal is to get past the Cavs and win an NBA championship, but to be blunt, every NBA GM says they want to win a championship and almost none of them have any reasonable expectation of accomplishing it next season or even in the foreseeable future.

By any historical measure, Toronto has nothing to be upset about. This team has succeeded on the court while Ujiri has handicapped his head coach with quite literally half a roster of inexperienced, inexpensive players under development. The building is sold out and the organization is raking in the cash from 16 home playoff dates over the past two postseason runs. But for injury, the Raptors could have easily set a fourth consecutive record for franchise wins in a season last year.

This summer will be different. The team has four key unrestricted free agents that they should have no trouble hanging onto if Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) will open their checkbook, but that would end the days of modest payroll and huge profits. What the Raptors should do for their fans and will do for their corporate masters may not be on the same page.

1. Re-sign Kyle Lowry (31-years-old), unrestricted free agent

Everything this summer for the Raptors revolves around re-signing Lowry. If Ujiri screws this up, the rest of free agency will quickly circle the drain.

The Raptors need to get the best deal possible and hopefully that’s in the order of four years and $120 million, but if if takes five years and $150 million plus to get it done, well, it’s time the Raptors started spending some of that money they’ve made off of their loyal fans.

2. Re-sign Serge Ibaka (28) and P.J. Tucker (32), unrestricted free agents

Ujiri said he traded for these two players at the trade deadline in February in order to get their Bird Rights. Well the only reason you need a player’s Bird Rights in free agency is so you can go over the salary cap to re-sign them, so get it done.

This is no time to cheap out. Ibaka wants to be in Toronto, but he isn’t going to take a below market deal, so offer Ibaka five years and $100 million. Tucker said he was looking for fit in his next contract and Lowry would be a big factor in determining that, but he’s 32-years-old, offer Tucker three years and $25 million and be prepared to go higher.

Failure to re-sign Ibaka and Tucker means Ujiri gave away a young three-point shooter in Terrence Ross, a first round draft pick and two second round draft picks for nothing.

3. See what the market says UFA Patrick Patterson’s (28) value is

Over the past four years the Raptors have played better as a team with Patterson on the court, but he has proven to be an unreliable offensive threat who seems to get hurt at the worst time and his limited offense takes a holiday after returning from injury.

Patterson didn’t do himself any favors in the playoffs over the past two seasons either as this career average 36.8 percent three-point shooter fired 30.2 percent from deep over his last 30 postseason games.

From a Raptors perspective, it would be nice to re-sign Patterson to another cheap three-year deal to continue coming off the bench, but like Bismack Biyombo last summer, expect Patterson to get paid a lot more elsewhere than he’s worth to Toronto.

Get ready to say bye-bye to a great guy in July.

4. Trade DeMarre Carroll

Despite not living up to some very high expectations or his contract, Carroll has done nothing wrong in Toronto and it’s likely his knee will finally be 100 percent and he’ll return to being an effective ‘3-and-D’ combo forward next season.

It’s just, at 31-years-old in July, after two disappointing seasons in Toronto, he’s in the way of younger players and it’s time to move on and potentially help a different (younger?) team that needs what he should still be able to bring to the table.

Ujiri can’t expect much back and he might have to include him in a larger deal just to move him. However, the Luxury tax savings alone should make a trade for nothing back worthwhile from a corporate standpoint. From a team standpoint, he should be able to do a little better.

5. Trade Jonas Valanciunas

Valanciunas can probably improve his jump shooting dramatically and within a couple of years become that trailing three-point threat on the fast break who is left wide open. However, he’ll never be decent runner and his lack of quickness will continue to challenge him when guarding on the perimeter.

Given 30 minutes a night, JV can almost guarantee a double-double average, so he should have solid trade value as one of the top rebounders in the NBA on a percentage basis and a still improving player on offense.

Unfortunately for Valanciunas, if the rookie Jakob Poeltl continues improve over the summer and Ibaka is re-signed, Poeltl should be able to just take JV’s minutes at a much lower cost.

To fit with the direction Ujiri seems to be taking this team, he needs to get back a more mobile big man with a better jump shot or a solid ‘3-and-D’ forward.

6. Reduce The Number Of Prospects On The 15 Man Roster

While there should be no objection to Ujiri drafting the injured small forward OG Anunoby with the 23rd pick in June, there should be huge concerns about heading into the 2017-18 season with eight players still on their rookie deals.

Of those eight players,

As the most sure-fire young player on the Raptors, Norman Powell is ready to take on a much bigger role this season. Depending on what other moves Ujiri makes this summer, Powell could be starting. He’s earned it.

Jacob Poeltl needs a spot in the rotation somewhere as he is far too good to get anything out of being sent back to the Raptors 905.

Ujiri needs to decide if it’s going to be Delon Wright or Fred VanVleet assuming the third string point guard duties next season. Both are promising young players, but he needs that roster spot to improve the team’s depth elsewhere. So, pick one.

Between Bruno Caboclo, Pascal Siakam, Lucas Nogueira and Anunoby, Ujiri needs to start making decisions about who he believes in and who he is just hanging on to out of hope. At least one of these guys should be available in trade to make room for a more NBA ready player or just simply to grease a trade.

The Raptors have two new quasi-roster spots available (total 17) on two-way deals this season that don’t count against the salary cap. Use them and get the prospects on the 15-man roster down to a more manageable number.

Conclusion

The Raptors need to follow the plan Ujiri created when he traded for Ibaka and Tucker at the trade deadline this past season. Everything follows from there.

Whether the roster Ujiri manages to put together will be good enough to get past the Cavs or not, Raptors fans deserve the best team possible, even if that squeezes MLSE’s profits.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll

Should The Timberwolves Now Go After Carroll And Valanciunas?

Thirteen years as a Lottery Team would weigh on anybody and the Minnesota Timberwolves new president of basketball operations and head coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t sign up to run this team last year with the intention of extending that streak. He proved that in spades at the 2017 NBA Draft by trading potential future stars Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and the number 7 pick Lauri Markkanen for Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler and the number 16 pick Justin Patton.

The Timberwolves instantly got better, but if Thibs is serious about making an impact in the postseason next April, he still needs some playoff proven veterans help to get his remaining highly talented crop of young players to the next level and Toronto Raptors starters DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunas could become available because of Luxury Tax concerns.

Star Tribune’s Sid Hartman reported on the desperation for change by owner Glen Taylor at the end of the season,

“(Thibodeau) needs some players that will come off the bench and keep us going and not give up the lead,” he said. “I think he would say if he can get some guys with experience that would be helpful, so he can mix them in with our young guys during those substitution times. I think that will be a priority.

“We could also always use another big guy. If we back up a year and we were hoping that Pek [Nikola Pekovic] would be part of that and be a big, strong guy that would come in and take minutes off, so Karl [-Anthony Towns] didn’t get beat up so much and play so many minutes.”

Pek is officially done and last year’s attempt at veteran stability with players like Cole Aldrich (8.6 mpg), Jordan Hill (6.7 mpg), Omri Casspi (17.1 mpg) and Lance Stephenson (on two 10 days, 11.2 mpg) didn’t work.

However, even after the draft night trade, Thibodeau still has a ton of cap flexibility to sooth that burning desire to win now.

The Wolves will have Pekovic’s contract numbers off the books for next season, and because he did not play this season, his contract is covered by insurance, so that means their current salary cap should be in the $66 million range (prior to the Butler trade).

It wasn’t going to be easy attracting quality free agents to a team with a losing record let alone a mind-blowing 13-year losing streak and there is no pretending Minnesota is anything like New York, L.A. or Miami. So, just like the deal with the Bulls, the best way for Thibs to get what he needs is most likely to be accomplished by way of another trade.

Enter the Toronto scenario. Raptors president Masai Ujiri says he wants to re-sign free agents Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, but to do so would put his team deep into Luxury Tax territory with no guarantee they’d be able to escape the Eastern Conference currently owned by LeBron James. A tax bill of $45 million plus is a steep price to pay if you’re fighting for second best in your conference.

However, Ujiri could almost wipe out that tax bill if he could get one of Valanciunas or Carroll off of his books and a trade involving both players with the right asset back could give him the “culture change” he’s looking for next season as well.

While there is no chance the Timberwolves are going to part with another one of their young stars, Minnesota does have a player the African-born Ujiri would almost certainly be interested in, Senegal’s 27-year-old Gorgui Dieng.

Deng’ offensive production has stalled at about 10 points per game over the past three seasons as has his rebounding at about eight boards, but the power forward/center is known for his defense and has started to show he just might have an effective corner three-ball. It’s not hard to see him fitting into the “culture” Toronto is trying to build.

It shouldn’t be too hard to convince Thibs to trade the guy Dunking  With The Wolves George Rinaldi sees as a sixth man instead of a T-wolves starter in the future.

Dieng is producing decent basketball when needs be, but in all honesty, would perfectly suit a bench player.

What Dieng offers is a solid defensive player, able to knock down mid-range shots on a regular basis, and give a significant number of rebounds per game.

Just the chance to add a couple of starters like Valanciunas and Carroll from a team coming off four consecutive trips to the postseason and back-to-back 50-plus win regular seasons should be enough to get Thibs rushing to try and do a deal. The Twolves would go from being too young to win last season to a team with veteran depth.

The 25-year-old Valanciunas is a legit 7′ traditional center who can start, but actually played his best basketball coming off the bench in this year’s playoff run. He has consistently been in the top 10 for rebounding percentage in the NBA and produced a consistent 12 points and 9-plus rebounds in 26 minutes over the last three years. His contract is similar to Dieng’s four-year deal and has two more seasons plus a player option left.

The Raptors acquired the now 30-year-old Carroll from the 60-win Atlanta Hawks two summers ago and although the “3-and-D” combo forward missed most of his first season in Toronto due to knee problems and he’s taken a lot of flak from the fan base for not living up to early high expectations, he can still space the floor, hit threes and play defense the right way. He played 72 games last season and he would be the poster-boy for the type of veteran that could help stabilize a young team like the T-wolves. He has two years and $30.2 million left on his contract.

While simply moving Carroll’s contract into Minnesota’s cap space would largely solve’s Ujiri’s tax problems this year and give Thibodeau his veteran on a short two year leash, the larger deal could do more for both teams. One team trying to get to where Toronto is now and the other team trying to find a way to take the next step without setting new franchise records for luxury taxes.

There will be a lot of opportunities for these two teams to look at after free agency opens up in July, but signing free agents is tough and it often isn’t easy finding a motivated trade partner you aren’t competing with.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Detroit Pistons Jon Leuer and Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll

Should The Raptors And Pistons Make A Trade?

Pistons chief cook and bottle washer Stan Van Gundy wasn’t happy after his team took a step back into Draft Lottery territory with a 37-45 record this past season and he’s looking to make a deal. Raptors president Masai Ujiri’s team won 51 games, but he’s got his own moves to make as keeping his key guys together means a trip into Luxury Tax territory. Just maybe these two decision-makers should be talking trade?

The Detroit News’ Rod Beard says Van Gundy is pressing to make changes.

“Would we like to make changes this summer? Absolutely. Is it a priority to be out trying to make changes? Absolutely. We need to make improvements,” Van Gundy said.

“We’re not under the cap, so our way to make changes and get better is through trades.”

Van Gundy insists wholesale changes aren’t needed, but his team needs help in a number of areas, especially three-point shooting and unfortunately last year’s big stretch four free agent acquisition Jon Leuer was only stretching his credibility at the three-point line.

Leuer had shot 38.2 percent from three in Phoenix the previous season earning him a four year, $41 million contract from the Pistons that summer. Unfortunately in a bigger role with Detroit he couldn’t find the range and shot just 29.3 percent from three on a team that was desperate for someone, anyone to help spread the floor.

Detroit Free Press’ Vince Ellis didn’t hold back in his opening statement about the Pistons’ players after the season and only gives Leuer a 50 percent chance of being back with the Pistons next year.

Trade center Andre Drummond!

Get rid of that bum point guard Reggie Jackson!

Jon Leuer is a bust!

Stanley Johnson was a mistake!

The word: (Leuer) Went from a great signing to an awful signing in the same season. Probably played over his head the first 50 games but probably is better than he showed the last 30. An obvious replacement (Ellenson) is on the roster.

The Drummond and Jackson comments were undoubtedly for effect, but if things don’t change, the effect could become reality at the trade deadline. Teams don’t usually give up on Lottery Picks on modest contracts like Johnson easily, but Leuer’s contract isn’t scary, even if his history and recent run with Detroit says he’s best suited to coming off the bench.

If the Pistons want to move Leuer, the Raptors might be the team who’ll take a chance on him…. if Van Gundy wants what the Raptors will be selling.

It’s expected Toronto will lose backup stretch four Patrick Patterson to free agency. If Ujiri gets his way and Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker all re-sign, the Luxury Tax bill to keep Patterson could set new NBA records if something doesn’t give.

Ujiri will be motivated to move a veteran piece from his 50-win roster and one available piece is almost certainly starter DeMarre Carroll.

Carroll is a 31-year-old veteran who’s been to the Conference Finals twice in the last three years on teams averaging over 55 wins. He’s shot 39 percent or better from three in two of the past three years and last season’s “slump” to 34.1 percent would have tied him with Marcus Morris at 1.5 made threes per game as second best on the Pistons.

The issue with Carroll has been injuries. Specifically an undiagnosed knee problem that required surgery early in the 2015-16 season and only became fully rehabbed midway thru last year. In theory at least, Carroll is back to 100 percent healthy now.

His $30.2 million remaining over the next two seasons on his contract is almost identical to what the Pistons owe Leuer over the next three years and can probably be made to work in a straight up trade.

If in the unlikely event Van Gundy is truly disheartened by Johnson, Ujiri would almost certainly give up his first round draft pick to get him.

The Raptors would have some immediate interest in a deal of Carroll for Leuer based on the Luxury Tax savings alone, but the clincher likely would come down to Tucker’s assessment of his former Suns teammate.

Leuer had the best season of his career the year he played with Tucker. If he could recreate something similar to 2015-16 for the Raptors off the bench, Ujiri would be pretty happy with the move.

At the least Carroll is a proven veteran from a winning program who is good with young players. At his best, he’s a very effective “3-and D” combo forward who can guard multiple positions on the perimeter and can play in a variety of lineups. He could be the guy who helps get Detroit back into the playoff picture.

Neither the Pistons nor the Raptors can expect to hit a homerun with the players they are likely willing to part with this summer, but this is the type of trade that could help both teams (or neither team) and is worth the risk.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll PJ Tucker Serge Ibaka Patrick Patterson collage

Magic Have Four Raptors On Their Radar This Summer

In the oops of all oops, an agent of an Orlando Magic player inadvertently tweeted out a list of the guys the team would like to target this summer by trade or in free agency and it looks like four current Toronto Raptors players are squarely in their sights.

CBS Sports NBA captured the image before the Magic realized what they’d done and Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported on the team’s embarrassment.

Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said the lists are “not indicative of plans” and were “simply listing options, including some of which other teams have inquired about.”

Orlando Magic tweet

Included on the lists are the Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll, P.J. Tucker, Patrick Patterson and Serge Ibaka.

This lists are long and undoubtedly very preliminary, but they do give an idea of what the Magic could be going after in draft day deals and in July. This isn’t April 1st, are we sure this was an accident?

 

 

 

NBA DeMarre Raptors DeMarre Carroll

Raptors DeMarre Carroll Admits To Playing Hurt Recently

Toronto Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll takes a lot of pride in being able to overcome adversity, so it wasn’t until he had started playing better again that he would admit to playing hurt recently. Carroll hadn’t been the same since an accidental kick to the head by teammate Pascal Siakam in Philadelphia three weeks ago.

“It kind of threw me out,” Carroll told Pro Bball Report. “I probably shouldn’t of come back as early as I did. I probably should have taken a couple of games off, but I’m a fighter and that’s what I do.”

He really should have sat down for a few games and recovered. In the 10 games going back to Philly, Carroll averaged 5.7 points in 25.9 minutes on 25.6 percent shooting from the field and 15.4 percent from three. He looked bad and took a ton of heat in social media.

“Outside people don’t really know what goes on with an NBA player, so it’s just one of those things,” Carroll said. “You got to have tough skin.

“I’ve been through so much I don’t take any game for granted.”

It’s easy to forget that Carroll has been through a lot in his life, doesn’t take anything for granted and appreciates the faith the Raptors have placed in him. He’s even admitted, “I don’t want that stat that I’m injury prone.” Although almost anyone watching that play in Philly would of concluded he had a concussion afterwards.

“I’ve been through a lot of obstacles in my life,” Carroll said when he first joined the Raptors. “From being shot in college, to having my liver condition, for an organization to take me under their wing and bring me here and look at me as a true part of this team, it means a lot.”

Fortunately things seem to be getting back on track over the past two games. On the back-to-back wins over the Nets and Clippers, Carroll averaged 12 points on 52.9 percent shooting from the field and he hit on 3-8 three-point attempts. He looked more like the player who was finally getting everything back together again like in did in the weeks immediately prior to getting kicked in the head.

“I am slowly getting there,” Carroll said. “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.”

It’s been frustrating for the fans in Toronto to watch Carroll underperform because of injuries, but it’s been more frustrating for Carroll. He had high expectations for his new team and himself when he joined the Raptors last season and it wasn’t until mid December of this year that he was finally able to play every game and produce like he expected he would.

This setback, however, should be brief and hopefully, well before the playoffs, Carroll will be playing like he did on that 60-win Atlanta Hawks team.

“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 said. “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.”

There is no doubt Carroll will give all that he has. He been through tougher situations than this.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 
 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll Brooklyn Nets

DeMarre Carroll Hasn’t Been The Same Since A Kick To The Head

Right about now the fans in Toronto are ready to ride forward DeMarre Carroll out of town on a rail. The Raptors big free agent addition of 2015 has been beyond terrible over the past 10 games, coinciding with an accidental kick to the head by rookie Pascal Siakam in Philadephia.

Going back to that fateful night in Philly when Carroll went 0-6 from the field, the Junkyard Dog 2.0 has averaged 5.7 points in  25.9 minutes on 25.6 percent shooting from the field and 15.4 percent from three.

In the days after the game Carroll admitted his neck was stiff, and no wonder, the blow to the head he took from Siakam looked like it could have been very serious and as if that wasn’t enough, it didn’t come out until much later that he also injured a finger.

The injured finger has “affected his mechanics,” how’s that for the understatement of the season?

The really tough part to accept about Carroll’s situation is that he had only just admitted he was starting to feel good about his offense a couple of days before getting kicked in the head.

“It’s gone (knee problems), now I can just focus on my game,” Carroll told Pro Bball Report after scoring 20 points on the Knicks in Toronto on January 15th. “Last year was always about (that). This year was I hope my knee don’t hurt tomorrow. Now my knee is good.”

Carroll had put together a seven game streak averaging 14.4 points in 32.9 minutes on 46.6 percent shooting from the field and 42.6 percent shooting from three. He looked every part of the impact free agent forward the Raptors thought they were getting and then, in an instant, it ended.

How Carroll managed to avoid missing several games with concussion protocol isn’t known. Assume he passed, but he was definitely shaken up in Philly. Carroll has mentioned more than once he doesn’t like to sit out and will play thru pain (and probably other symptoms), even if it isn’t always a good idea. Plus with Patrick Patterson sidelined with a knee contusion, he likely felt even more pressure to play.

His finger will heal, the neck stiffness should subside with treatment and time, but the pressure to stay on the court regardless of how he feels isn’t about to go away with the Raptors losers of 8 of their past 10 games. The lack of veteran depth in Toronto this season wasn’t his idea.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll

DeMarre Carroll Has Become A Big Offensive Threat For The Raptors

Acquired for his defense, DeMarre Carroll can score the ball, it’s just he hasn’t shown that side of his game very often in Toronto. However, recent tends suggest that may be about to change. This “3-and-D” specialist has been averaging 18.8 points over his last four games and he says we’ve all just forgotten about his scoring. He can be a big offensive threat too.

“Many people forget when I was with Atlanta I had 20 points plus eight straight playoff games,” Carroll told Pro Bball Report. “I can score the ball. My main focus has always been on defense, but offense is second nature to me. I am getting the ball in rhythm and that’s always a positive.”

Carroll became an efficient double-digit scorer in Atlanta and in his final season with the Hawks, he had a six game playoff run over the first two rounds that averaged 22 points per game shooting 56.3 percent from three and then he put up two double-doubles averaging 17.5 points and 10 boards to help close out the Wizards in six games and advance to the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavs.

It wasn’t known at the time, but when the Toronto Raptors signed DeMarre Carroll as a free agent, he was still having problems with his knee that had first showed up in that ECF against the Cavs and it eventually cost him most of last season.

The Raptors were still concerned about Carroll’s durability heading into this season, resting him on back-to-backs and watching his minutes, but that’s all over now. Carroll’s knee isn’t hurting him after games any more.

“It’s gone (knee problems), now I can just focus on my game,” Carroll said. “Last year was always about (that). This year was I hope my knee don’t hurt tomorrow. Now my knee is good.”

Carroll has averaged 34.1 minutes over his last six games, up from 25 minutes in his first 29 games where the Raptors also gave him five games off thru early December.

But it’s more than just Carroll feeling stronger and no longer worrying about his knee. The Raptors are adjusting their style of play to reflect the offensive surge in the NBA this year and, possibly, taking advantage of what Carroll can do now.

“(Carroll) is being aggressive,” Cory Joseph said. “Finding his spot and getting more comfortable. Last year he was battling with his knee.”

“(We’re) getting out and running more, a lot more,” Carroll said. “That’s playing to my (strength). I like to run. I am an athletic guy. There’s where I shoot the threes.

“Earlier in the season I was trying to come back and get a feel (for the game.) We was playing slow down basketball. Now we are running more and it’s conducive to the style I like to play.”

He’s all the way back. Healthy, productive and ready to give Toronto what was promised when he signed as a free agent two summer ago and to keep up in a league that’s gone three-point crazy, the Raptors are going to need him.

“We have to score the ball,” Carroll said. “I think that’s just because teams are stretching three-point line. That’s why people are scoring so much right now and it’s a positive. It fits a guy like myself who likes to shoot the three-ball a lot.”

A “3-and-D” Carroll who can play over 30 minutes per game and put up over 20 points on occasion is a huge add to Raptors rotation for the second half of this year and into the postseason.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Norman Powell

It Should Be Norman Powell Time In Toronto

At 16 wins and 7 losses, the Eastern Conference second place Raptors are running well ahead of last year’s 56-win season, so there isn’t much to complain about in Toronto, but after watching this team easily handle their main challenger in the Atlantic Division, just maybe one Norman Powell should be asking when it will be his time in Toronto?

In Boston on Friday night Powell started his fifth game for the Raptors this season and for the fifth time he scored in double-digits. No one should be surprised either. Powell was outstanding as a rookie after the All-Star break last season and had a huge impact in Toronto’s opening playoff series win over the Pacers. The hot hand and solid defensive play this season is just a continuation from last year.

Head coach Dwane Casey has used Powell as a starter in order to give DeMarre Carroll the night off in back-to-back situations with solid success and squeezed out a handful of minutes in other games whether there has been a good reason to do so or not.

Powell has been ready to play every time. However, the backup small forward job was Terrence Ross’ job to lose and he’s been playing some of the best ball of his career. Casey and the Raptors have depth on the wing and it’s a problem, albeit a good problem for the Raptors.

 

 

Casey has put so much time in effort into developing Ross that he has to be genuinely happy to see the 25-year-old putting everything together this season. His shooting and decision-making are better, his turnover rate is way down (again) and his nose for steals and blocks has improved. Ross is having a good year.

Powell is having a better year.

If there is one thing that is biting the high scoring Raptors this season it’s their rebounding and while Ross has 3″ in height over Powell, Powell is tougher on the glass. In fairness, Powell plays tougher than most players. It’s what caught Casey’s attention last season and it’s why this second round pick got on the court in the first place.

Surprising to those that didn’t follow Powell’s brief D-League stint with the 905, he’s also a lot better ball distributor. When Powell was sent to Mississauga to get playing time early last season, then head coach Jesse Mermuys let him have significant minutes running the team at the point. Powell had a knack for it too and it shows as he’s racked up assists at double the rate of Ross or Carroll. Powell is the team’s fourth best player at dishing the ball.

Giving Powell more minutes isn’t going to be an easy change to make. He’s undersized at small forward and isn’t going to displace Carroll. Also, while Powell is handling wild fluctuations in minutes from game-to-game, Ross isn’t likely to do so well in an inconsistent role.

The Raptors are winning with Powell bouncing in and out of the rotation and he gives them a solid starter on the wing if any of their regulars goes down. That’s a luxury few teams can boast. However, Powell has earned more consistent minutes than he’s getting. It should be time for Powell to somehow someway get a bigger role.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan Jonas Valanciunas Kyle Lowry 2016 media day

Coach Casey Says Raptors Are Going To Score This Year

The Toronto Raptors played at the second slowest pace in the NBA last season, but they still managed to put up points in the dead middle of the pack (102.7 points per game) while playing solid defense so they had a league fifth best plus/minus of +4.5 points. Head coach Dwane Casey maintains it’ll be defense first again this season and he isn’t worried about scoring. “We’ll score,” Casey explained after a recent preseason practice and one look at this Raptors roster suggests they’ll score more than last season unless the injury bug bites them hard again this time.

In the Raptors starting unit of 2015-16, center Jonas Valanciunas missed 22 games, small forward DeMarre Carroll missed 56 games and the 35-year-old power forward Luis Scola started 76 games as his team’s best starting option at his position.

The Raptors blew through these issues somewhat seamlessly, but likely impact of injuries to starters and Scola on their scoring isn’t that hard to see.

The stone-fisted Bismack Biyombo was a solid replacement for Valanciunas in the starting line-up, but he he averaged 7.2 points as a starter versus 12.9 points for Valanciunas.

Carroll averaged 11.9 points as a starter, but more importantly spread the floor with 5 three-point attempts as one of the Raptors best three-point shooters. Veteran forward James Johnson stepped in for 32 starts, but he only averaged 5.9 points and 1.5 cringe-worthy three-point attempts per game. Rookie Norman Powell eventually won the job and started 24 times (almost all after the All-Star break) and averaged a solid 10.1 points and 3.2 three-point attempts while shooting 46.1 percent from three. Powell doesn’t have Carroll’s experience or size, but he sure makes that Raptors bench look a lot stronger heading into this season.

As much as everyone would have liked a stronger starting power forward than Scola, the veteran was pretty effective averaging 8.7 points and spreading the court with 2.1 three-point attempts and hitting over 40 percent of them. Still, newcomer Jared Sullinger is bigger, younger and forced his way into the Celtics starting lineup over several bodies put in his way before the season started. In his 73 starts with Boston, Sullinger averaged 10.2 points and 8.5 rebounds. He only shot just over one three-ball per game, but like Scola last season, the potential to become a three-point threat is there.

The other scoring aspects of this year’s roster are:

1) Valanciunas, third on Toronto in scoring last season, is expected to play significantly more minutes this year.

2) Sullinger is also expected to play significant minutes at center where he’ll be a much more effective offensive player than Biyombo could ever hope to be.

3) Lowry, coming off a career year, is heading into a contact year that should/will land him a deal in the $130-150 million range. Look for the Raptors’ leader to have an even bigger year this time around.

For purely fantasy purposes, a quick look at the Raptors projected nine man rotation using last year’s stats illustrates why Casey isn’t worried about scoring.

Starters:
Kyle Lowry 77 games, 21.2 points, 4.7 rebounds
DeMar DeRozan 78 games, 23.5 points, 4.5 rebounds
DeMarre Carroll 26 games, 11 points, 4.7 rebounds
Jared Sullinger 81 games, 10.3 points, 8.3 rebounds
Jonas Valanciunas 60 games, 12.8 points, 9.1 rebounds

Reserves:
Terrence Ross 73 games, 9.9 points, 2.5 rebounds
Norman Powell* 25 games, 9.6 points, 3.4 rebounds
Cory Joseph 80 games, 8.5 points, 2.6 rebounds
Patrick Patterson 79 games, 6.9 points, 4.3 rebounds

Totals: 113.7 points, 44.1 rebounds (last season 102.7, 43.4)

* Powell post All-Star break

The biggest fly in the fantasy numbers will be Casey trying to find minutes to develop players like Lucas Nogueira, Jacob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam and Delon Wright. The reality is there isn’t enough minutes available to give the nine guys in the rotation all the time they should be getting and are expected to earn this season – unless someone gets hurt.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll

Raptors Are Fighting To Be The Next Man Up In Toronto Again

Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has one of those nice problems to have. He has too many deserving players and not enough minutes to go around leaving a group of guys fighting to be the next man up when opportunity finally knocks.

Even with the departure of starter Luis Scola, back up center Bismack Biyombo and heavily used fill-in James Johnson, finding meaningful minutes for players outside of the team’s top nine players will be a challenge unless someone gets hurt.

Plus, if Casey can, he’d like to find more minutes for some of the guys in his top nine, but if all of them were to just average playing the minutes they had last season, he’d have to create about 10 more minutes a game just to do that.

The Raptors will feature a three guard rotation with Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Cory Joseph soaking up virtually all of the minutes at the one and the two spots. These three very durable guards averaged so many minutes last season (98.5 minutes combined out of 96 available) that the only way Casey could keep them on the floor was to play them together. In 74 games Casey ran a lineup of Lowry, Joseph, DeRozan, Patrick Patterson and one of Jonas Valanciunas or Bismack Biyombo for an average of 3.2 minutes per game.

Heading into this season, the developing Joseph could see even more than the 25.6 minutes he averaged in his first go around in Toronto and since the All-Stars DeRozan and Lowry aren’t likely to be cut back, those minutes will have to come from somewhere (someone) else.

The one player Casey has already hinted at trying to “protect” this season so he’s available in good shape for the playoffs is DeMarre Carroll. Carroll averaged 30.2 minutes, but only played in 26 games due to injury and has only recently returned to playing five-on-five basketball in practice. Known as the Junkyard Dog 2.0, Carroll won’t exactly be excited about playing 24-26 minutes a game, but he’s secure in his contract and a team player. Besides, Casey knows he has to create minutes for the very deserving Norman Powell somehow, someway.

With very limited opportunities expected to be available at shooting guard, Casey will be left searching for ways to get Powell and three-point specialist and all around super tease Terrence Ross 24 minutes a game each this season. Casey can create time by playing small ball and the Raptors, like so many other NBA teams these days, have featured very successful lineups of guards and wings with one big man on the court.

Ross led the Raptors bench in three-point attempts last season (4.6), averaging 9.9 points in 23.9 minutes. As much as Ross can frustrate the fans for not doing more, Toronto needs his ability to stretch the floor. Post All-Star break, Powell averaged 9.6 points in 22.8 minutes and hit on 45.5 percent of his 3.1 three-point attempts, plus Casey loves his physical brand of defense.

The squeeze may come with the big men, although it won’t be easy to sit these guys down either.

Jonas Valanciunas was third in Raptors scoring (12.8 points) in just 26 minutes per game last season and he came up huge in the postseason before he was injured. Now entering his fifth NBA season, the pressure will be on to find JV more playing time. It’s easy to project Valanciunas at his 2016 pre-injury playoff numbers of 15 points, 12.1 rebounds, a steal and 1.4 blocks if he gets 28 to 30 minutes a night.

The crunch may come with Jared Sullinger and Patrick Patterson. Sullinger averaged 23.6 minutes a game in Boston putting up 10.3 points and a team best 8.3 rebounds. He replaces Scola (21.5 minutes per game) at starting power forward, plus Sullinger is expected to spend some time at backup center. Patterson played 25.6 minutes a game last year. However, both players are on expiring contracts and will be pushing hard for a bigger role this time around.

Sullinger and Patterson are highly motivated and very talented players, so Casey isn’t likely to find any minutes here to hand out to someone else. If anything, these two guys should be expected to earn more playing time than last season. It just isn’t that easy to see where the additional minutes for them are going to come from.

Then there’s the crew fighting to be the next man up if and when Casey needs someone.

Sitting on the sidelines and hoping to make an impression on coach Casey at training camp are centers Lucas Nogueira, rookie (9th pick) Jacob Poeltl and rookie (27th pick) center/power forward Pascal Siakam (who is eerily similar to Biyombo except this kid can score too). In other circumstances, on a team without so many quality big men or not fighting for a high playoff seed, these guys would play.

Nogueira has natural gifts of length, hops and quicks that are hard to find. He has the ability to be the best screen setter on the team, the potential to be a three-point threat or to feed the post from the outside for dunks and layups, and a is natural shot blocker. He just has to stay healthy and put it all together for longer than a quarter at a time.

Poeltl was described as the least likely player to be a bust in this year’s draft, a back-handed compliment to be sure, but not wrong. He has all the earmarks of a solid traditional NBA center. He might even become better than JV given time to develop.

Siakam is the guy everyone is likely to get excited about. High energy with more skill than he’s been given credit for, this is the guy to watch in preseason – even if he’s the one pegged as most likely to see time in the 905 right away. There’s just a “Norman Powell-like” feel to this kid.

Just maybe Casey makes the effort/sacrifice to create a few minutes for one of these three big men at backup center?

There never really was an issue with Delon Wright or Bruno Caboclo.

Wright won’t be available until December and he might not even get backup minutes at point guard if Lowry or Joseph aren’t available. Powell looked just as good as Wright running the offense with the 905 last season.

Is Bruno still two years away? t.b.d.

Of the six guys in training camp hoping to land the 15th roster spot, 26-year-old 905 Wing E.J. Singler has the three-point stroke and all around game that would make him an ideal replacement for last season’s injury reserve James Johnson. However, nothing is for certain with this group.

Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has a lot of decisions to make before the regular season starts, but they feel more like tweaks than earth shattering moves. His biggest issue may be trying to keep everybody happy with the number of minutes he has available and to keep guys fighting to get more.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Jonas Valanciunas, DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Lowry & DeMar DeRozan

DeMarre Carroll Is The Raptors Forgotten Big Off Season Addition

When the Toronto Raptors signed Atlanta Hawks big free agent DeMarre Carroll to a four-year $60 million contract last summer, they didn’t know they were getting damaged goods. Carroll only played in 26 regular season games for Toronto and hobbled through the Raptors deep playoff run as best he could. The return of Carroll seems to be forgotten in the excitement of this summer’s draft and free agency, but it’s deja vu as Toronto expects Carroll will be the big addition to this year’s Raptors rotation he was supposed to be last year.

Rotoworld reported,

DeMarre Carroll said that he was only 70-75 percent healthy during the playoffs.

After returning from in-season knee surgery, Carroll battled through a hyperextended elbow, sprained wrist, hip pointer and a twisted ankle. He couldn’t get into a rhythm on offense and couldn’t contain LeBron James during the Eastern Conference Finals, but give him credit for playing through his ailments. If Carroll can get his body right during the summer, he could be available at a nice discount in fantasy drafts next season. May 28 – 12:24 PM

NBA fantasy players might want to take notes.

To be fair, Carroll didn’t know what was about to happen in Toronto last season either. Both parties thought the injuries that had become apparent during the recently completed 2015 Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavaliers were minor and would heal completely with rest over the summer, but they were wrong.

Carroll only played in six games before a bout with planter fasciitis sat him down. He returned only to hurt his knee in his first game back and that was the beginning of the end of his regular season. Carroll described what happened in his blog.

The game against New Orleans Pelican, I remembered one play. I grabbed an offensive board and put it back. While I was in the air I was shoved and remembered landing awkwardly. My knee buckled and I felt instant pain. I shook it off, shot my free throw and didn’t think anything of it. The next morning I woke up to a swollen knee.

We all thought it was just a little sprain. My pain tolerance is so high just because of what I’ve been through in my life. (Being shot, my liver condition, broken nose and pinky, etc.) I kept playing knowing my knee was swollen and it didn’t seem to get any better. We played a couple weeks later and remember hitting my knee with a Clippers player going through a screen at end of first half. The same knee that was already swollen. This time the pain was sharp but more intense. I realized at that point something is seriously wrong. I attempted to play through it but wasn’t playing at a level of satisfaction. I was only a shell of myself which affected me mentally. The medical staff eventually told me we need to go see the doctor. Hours later, I saw the doctor and immediately after seeing him he couldn’t believe I was playing on this knee. He identified surgery was needed the next day for faster recovery. This was one of my saddest days because of the fact I never had surgery of this nature during my playing career. I got the surgery and proceeded with rehab.

Carroll told the media the surgery wasn’t serious and he expected to recover 100 percent. Unfortunately, he didn’t return until there was only five games left in the regular season and he only played in three of those games. He wasn’t physically ready to play NBA basketball when the playoffs started.

I started to feel my body was not ready for post season. I iced and did rehab every day. I was the last person out of the training room every day. I would come back every night just to ice and rehab. My body was not holding up because of the intensity I play and for missing so much time.

What the Raptors will be hoping for this time is a year more like his 2014-15 season when the Hawks won 60 games to take first place in the Eastern Conference. The “3-and-D” forward averaged 12.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 48.7 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from three-point range over 70 regular season games and upped his production significantly in the playoffs. It’s not that his regular season per game stats with Toronto were all that far off from the previous year, the Raptors just need him to play and he’ll be that big off season addition to the rotation that everybody seems to have forgotten about.

Fantasy players might want to note Carroll started out red hot with Toronto last season averaging 16.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.7 made three-pointers in his first three games. Then in his first seven games after returning from planter fasciitis he averaged 14 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2.4 steals and 2.4 made three-pointers. What might a frustrated, motivated and healthy Carroll average to start the 2016-17 season?

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll

Raptors Provide Injury Update On DeMarre Carroll

The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday tests taken following Wednesday’s game on forward DeMarre Carroll’s left wrist were negative. Carroll left Game 5 versus Miami in the third quarter with a left wrist contusion.

He will be treated symptomatically and is questionable for Game 6 on Friday at American Airlines Arena.

Carroll has averaged 9.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 31.5 minutes in 12 playoff games this season. In five games versus the Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinal, he has averaged 11.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 35.7 minutes in five contests.

 

 

 


NBA Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll

DeMarre Carroll Brings The Raptors Defensive Intensity

DeMarre Carroll hit three three-balls, scored 17 points and frustrated the Pacers All-Star Paul George all night as the Toronto Raptors cruised to the 101-85 win in Indiana to take a 2-1 series lead in their first round match. This was the playoff tested ‘3-and-D’ forward the Raptors thought – no knew – they were getting when they signed Carroll to that big contract last summer. A player who could bring defensive intensity to the Raptors in the postseason.

“He is giving us intensity on the defensive end,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said postgame. “That’s what we brought him here to do and hopefully his body responds well. He’s giving it to us on that end of the floor and his shooting and cutting is really helping us on the offensive end too with our spacing.”

This was just Carroll’s sixth game back after being cleared to play again following knee surgery in January and it was by far his best game. The Raptors finally willing to lift the minutes restriction on his playing time.

“It’s been a long time since I played that long,” Carroll said postgame. “It was great. It was a great feeling. I just to build off of it.”

The concern now is how he feels in the morning and Carroll even joked about his wife needing to give him a massage later, but the Raptors have shown an abundance of caution with their defensive stopper and the likelihood of a setback seems remote.

“I’ve been hurt a lot this season,” Carroll said. “A lot of people (might) sulk about it, but I’m just trying to move on, move forward and just try to come out and just try to keep helping this team win.

“The biggest thing coming off of injury is the mental state. You can get down on yourself mentally. I think I am strong mentally with all the stuff I’ve been through.”

This wasn’t the Carroll the Pacers had experienced during the first two games in Toronto. Being limited in minutes greatly reduced his impact on the court and Carroll never really found his rhythm, but that all changed when Casey told him to give all he could in Game Three.

“The biggest thing for me was just to come in and try to be physical, try to play my game,” Carroll said. “Coach (Casey) told me he was going to lift the minutes restriction. It kind of helped me, relief a little bit mentally that I’m not going to be restricted so I can play as hard as I can for as long as I can.”

It worked from the get go. Carroll was up into George from the first possession and George never looked comfortable dealing with his new adversary.

“(Carroll) just came back two weeks ago and so he is just probably getting his sea legs, the rhythm of the game, the speed of the game and now you go from regular season to the playoff intensity and that’s a huge step,” Casey said. “I thought tonight he looked closer to who he really is.”

“Tried to not let (George) get some feel good shots,” Carroll said. “Once he gets some feel good shots and see the ball go through the hoop, he’s a beast. The biggest thing for us is I make every shot harder and just keep trying to be physical with him. It’s going to be a collective group and I got to do my part.”

Carroll did his part and it made a difference. The scary thing from the Pacers standpoint should be he really is just finding his “sea legs” as Casey put it. Carroll is going to get a lot more comfortable and in rhythm the longer this series goes. This playoff veteran expects to win.

“It’s easy, it’s easy to do,” Carroll told Pro Bball Report prior to Game Two. ” Just we got to have the right mentality and you can’t take one game for granted.”

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


Raptors DeMarre Carroll Has Been Here Before And Won

There is no panic about Game Two in the Raptors locker room and there shouldn’t be. This isn’t last year’s offensive-minded squad or the inexperienced group from two years ago. This is a team of players who have been here before with the addition of veterans that have overcome adversity in the playoffs.

President and general manager Masai Ujiri targeted Cory Joseph and DeMarre Carroll for their playoff experience as much as their obvious skills. Players that have been there and done that can bring a sense of calm to other players that have yet to taste success.

“Last year against Washington we were down a game and we got that second game and then we went to Washington and won on their home court,” Carroll told Pro Bball Report prior to Game Two. “It’s easy, it’s easy to do. Just we got to have the right mentality and you can’t take one game for granted.”

DeMarre Carroll interview:


 
“We don’t feel no pressure. I don’t think anybody feels pressure. Yesterday in practice was very relaxed. Guys were laughing. Nobody was down. We knew we played a bad game. We knew we beat ourselves. Thing is for tonight is just for us to go out there and play our game and continue to keep doing what we’ve been doing all season. If we do that, we’ll take care of home court and not home court.”

Carroll believes the better team can win anywhere they play and he’s ready to be a difference-maker.

“I’m great,” Carroll said. “I am going to push myself until I can’t push myself no more. Biggest thing for me is just to play as hard as I can. Don’t leave nothing back.”

Head coach Dwane Casey has made one change to his starting line-up for Game Two and that’s to start the veteran Carroll in place of the rookie Norman Powell. This was always Carroll’s spot in the rotation just as soon as he was ready to step up and take it and the Raptors new Junk-Yard-Dog is chomping at the leash to be turned loose.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


NBA Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll

Raptors Carroll Looking Forward To Guarding Pacers George

“Love it,” DeMarre Carroll said about playing the Pacers. “Playing against Paul George, he’s one of the top players in the league. This isn’t my first rodeo against him.”

The Toronto Raptors have won the Atlantic Division crown and set a new franchise record for regular season wins for the third year in a row, but those weren’t the teams goals. This year the Raptors are looking to advance in the playoffs beyond the opening round for the first time since 2001. To that end, president and general manager Masai Ujiri’s biggest move last summer was to sign the Hawks free agent forward DeMarre Carroll.

Carroll was the glue in a tough Hawks defense that led the Eastern Conference in wins last season and arguably only lost to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals because Carroll was playing hurt.

Carroll was to be the glue of a bolstered Raptors defense this season, but foot and knee problems caused him to miss the guts of the regular season and he only returned just in time to help the 56-win Raptors in the playoffs. They might just need him too. Carroll was and likely is the player Toronto will turn to if the Pacers All-Star George gets going.

‘(George) can do it all,” Carroll explained. “He plays on both ends, so that makes him really special. At the same time I got to do my job and try to make every shot hard for him. The motto I believe in, I don’t want him hitting shots from early in the game  at the end of the game.”

Carroll won’t start in Game One, that honor goes to Toronto’s surprising rookie Norman Powell, but Carroll is ready to go and willing to do whatever it takes.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.