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.
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?