DeMarre Carroll was signed by the Toronto Raptors to be the LeBron James stopper come playoff time. Unfortunately, that isn’t who he is. Carroll’s $60M/4-year contract looks worse by the day. It’s easy to say DeMarre hasn’t bounced back after an injury-riddled season last year. In fact, Carroll has been significantly worse from the offensive side of the ball this season. On Wednesday, he finally got pulled from the starting lineup in game two against the Cavs after starting the last seven playoff games.
Don’t Blame DeMarre
Carroll was a great system player for the Atlanta Hawks. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been that for the Raptors. Do I blame DeMarre for taking the money? No. He’s a guy who has had to fight scrap and claw to stay in the NBA. If there was a job opportunity where you knew the pay would significantly improve your lifestyle and give you the means to retire comfortably wouldn’t you take it?
“I have in…”
"Yo Raptors fan, I'm really happy for you, Imma let you finish, but you are taking that job in this economic climate. And if you were going to say integrity, it’s overrated.”
Carroll coming off the bench in Wednesday’s game two against the Cavs didn’t really help the Raptors. It was easy to blame him when the Raptors got off to bad starts with him in the lineup, but this game was a team failure. The Raptors were horrific on defense by allowing the Cavs to hit their first eight threes and it didn’t stop there. At the end of regulation, the Raptors had given up 125 points and took the loss while only putting up 103 points themselves.
Despite coming off the bench, Carroll played almost four more minutes in this game than when he started in game one. DeMarre was 0-6 with no points but managed to get two steals and a block. He wasn’t good in this game but wasn’t the reason for the loss with only a plus/minus of -2. The Raptors lost this game because they didn’t play team defense. Even though Norman Powell played LeBron James pretty well in the first quarter, it didn’t matter. The Cavs still managed to open up a big lead early with their supporting cast.
At times DeMarre Carroll looks off just trying to bring the ball up the floor. Over the course of the season, he has played well in maybe 20% of his games and poorly in the other 80%. Carroll kind of reminds me of why Lou Williams didn’t work. 60% of the time Lou was great every time. The other 40% he was awful. The highs were great with Williams, but the lows were super painful. With Carroll, the majority of the time has been extremely excruciating. The Raptors struggle enough with consistency and Carroll not producing doesn’t help the situation. DeMarre had a stretch this season of a couple of weeks where he was shooting milk fat from three. Okay, maybe it was between whole milk and cream, but that’s not a good percentage to shoot from three especially when you aren’t a player that is the focal point of the defense.
Is Carroll’s Contract Moveable?
DeMarre is owed over $30M over the next two seasons. There isn’t going to be many teams interested in taking on that contract even if the Raptors were just looking to dump him. However, I think the Raptors would be able to unload him if they threw in one of Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, or Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira. Siakam started the season playing significant minutes, but quickly fell out of favor when he couldn’t cut the mustard. Yes, he’s only a rookie, but it’s still unclear whether he will be able to make an impact in the NBA. VanVleet never really got impactful minutes this season for the Raptors, but looks like he might be able to survive in the NBA even though he was undrafted. I think it’s hard to imagine both Cory Joseph and Fred VanVleet on this Raptors team next year with the emergence of Delon Wright. So, if the Raptors were to give up VanVleet to offload Carroll’s contract it wouldn’t be a big loss. As for Bebe, he showed major signs of improvement this year mainly with his shot-blocking prowess. For a seven-footer Bebe struggled to position for rebounds and be an offensive factor. You love his positive energy, but he will be entering his 4th year next year so he might be close to his ceiling. Plus, he also fell out of the rotation with rookie Jakob Poeltl showing toughness on both ends and the addition of Serge Ibaka at the trade deadline.
DeMarre Carroll’s days may be numbered with the Raptors, but let’s hope the good DeMarre can show up for a game or two against the Cavs like he did against the Bucks.
Can the Raptors Pull It Together?
The Raptors got beat up in the first two games in the Eastern Conference Finals in Cleveland last year but managed to play hard and pull out wins in game three and four at home. So, it’s conceivable they could do the same this year against the Cavs again. It starts on defense, by closing out on threes and closing lanes to the basket. If the Raptors can do that it might just give them the confidence and the fuel to produce at a high level on offense. Not to mention it’s not going to hurt their transition game. There is still hope for the Raptors.