A former Utah Jazz fan favorite, DeMarre Carroll, was recently traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a move focused on freeing up cap space for the Toronto Raptors.
Formerly dubbed the “Junkyard Dog”, DeMarre Carroll was once a fan favorite as a member of the Utah Jazz. Entering the roster as a relatively unknown player who the Jazz picked up after he was waived by the Denver Nuggets, Carroll had somewhat of a breakout year in his next season in Utah in 2012-13 where in limited minutes he averaged six points on 46 percent shooting from the field while adding 2.8 rebounds and nearly an assist and a steal per game.
What really stood out about DeMarre, though, was his relentless hustle, incomparable grit and grind, and his overall ability to make winning plays. Those traits were something that the Atlanta Hawks were willing to go out on a limb for, so in the offseason of 2013, they signed him to a very reasonable two-year, approximately $2.5 million contract and the Junkyard Dog absolutely rewarded their gamble.
In Atlanta, Carroll’s minutes essentially doubled as did the majority of his stats. By 2014-15, Carroll was putting up 12.6 points per game with incredible efficiency – 48.7 percent from the field and a blistering 39.5 percent from deep – while also chipping in 5.3 rebounds and nearly two assists per game.
He morphed into one of Atlanta’s best one-on-one defenders and quite frankly his play was a major reason why the Hawks were a 60-win team and the top seed in the East in 2015. In a lot of ways, Jazz fans looked on with dropped jaws and no small amount of disappointment and disbelief at the fact that they had allowed such a formidable, do-it-all kind of player to get away, especially on such an economical contract.
From there, though, Carroll’s days on such an affordable deal came to an abrupt end as in the offseason of 2015, the Toronto Raptors went on to sign him to a four-year, $60 million deal. Unfortunately, much to the disappointment of the Raptors, Carroll’s career growth didn’t continue on a trajectory to match the enormous pay raise.
Carroll saw his minutes and production decline in his first two years with the Raptors leading up to a very disappointing 2016-17 season which saw him average just 8.9 points on a disappointing 40 percent shooting from the field and 34.1 percent from deep. Carroll’s numbers with Toronto that season were his lowest since being a member of the Utah Jazz.
Therefore, in some ways it came as little surprise that on Saturday night the Raptors made a salary dump trade to move DeMarre Carroll off of their roster and onto that of the Brooklyn Nets. The trade included the Raptors sending away Carroll and two future draft picks in exchange for Brooklyn’s Justin Hamilton.
Essentially Toronto is saving themselves approximately $30 million over two years as they look to retool around recently re-signed Kyle Lowry so that they can better compete in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors have been knocked out of the playoffs two years straight by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and while Carroll was once thought of as a key piece to the puzzle of dethroning the King, he largely failed to live up to expectations.
Nevertheless, the former Jazzman still brings many of those coveted untangibles to the table and could end up being a very nice pickup for the long-struggling Brooklyn Nets. Although Carroll’s current contract isn’t exactly ideal, especially given his most recent production, there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t right the ship especially with a new opportunity.
Although they may not have been able to make it happen, I wouldn’t have minded at all if the Jazz had looked to make a move similar to this to try and pick up their former small forward. Although he certainly wouldn’t completely fill the void left by Gordon Hayward’s departure, Carroll would still be a formidable option, especially considering where the Jazz reside currently and how bleak their small forward position is looking right now.
Not to mention, with defensive-minded guys like Rudy Gobert, Ricky Rubio and even newcomer Donovan Mitchell, Carroll would fit very well with the current mantra and mindset of the team. Furthermore, ever since the unfortunate (especially in hindsight) departure of forward Trevor Booker, the Jazz have lacked a certain amount of fire and a player who’s unafraid to grind and do the dirty work. A guy formerly known as the Junkyard Dog could have very well filled that role anew.
And even though Carroll’s contract is probably more hefty than the Jazz would have liked to take on based on his recent production and the team’s current situation, the fact that there’s only two years remaining on the deal makes it somewhat more palatable.
However, even that may be too long as I have a feeling that at this point the Jazz will use 2017-18 as an evaluation type of year, then look to make major moves the following offseason once they know where their free agents stand and better understand how the team is going to come together in a post-Hayward era.
I, for one, hope to see Carroll get his career back on track albeit with a dismal Brooklyn team. He was always great as a Jazzman and his time in Atlanta gave me high hopes that he could be a key piece on good teams for the remainder of his career.
Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz have yet to make any sort of move after Gordon Hayward’s infamous free agency declaration, now dubbed “The Indecision” and fans are quite justifiably starting to feel some very real angst. Although Utah has largely missed out on opportunities to make any sort of major splash to replace Hayward, they still are in desperate need to add some kind of depth at the three/four-spot who can help shore up their lineup.
Even though he was likely never a true trade target for the Jazz, DeMarre Carroll is yet another guy who can be added to the now growing list of potential options the Jazz have missed out on. And if they hope to remain as competitive as is now humanly possible next season, they’d better act quickly to acquire some sort of stopgap to play at the position that once belonged to Gordon Hayward.