What's Up With DeMarre Carroll?
Last summer, the Spurs dealt Davis Bertans to the Wizards in order to create space for verbally-committed free agent Marcus Morris. After Marcus Morris notoriously dropped out of the 2-year, $20 million deal to instead play ball in New York with the Knicks, the Spurs lost out on their biggest free agency addition. To compensate for the gap in the depth chart, San Antonio signed 33-year-old DeMarre Carroll to a 3-year, $20.65 million deal.
Now, Davis Bertans is having a breakout year in Washington, instead of with the organization that literally just had his rights. Bertans is averaging 15.3 ppg, attempting 8.7 3 pointers a night, and knocking them down at a 42% clip. San Antonio needs perimeter shooting as much as any team in the league, and Spurs fans have no choice but to sit back, watch, and wonder what could have been.
Bertans’ replacement, DeMarre Carroll, is barely averaging as many minutes (9) as Bertans’ amount of three-point attempts per game (8.7). For a player who averaged over 25 minutes per game last year, this sudden change shifted him from veteran role player on a playoff team to a third-string rotation player who only touches the floor in garbage time.
With a forward-heavy roster, the dip of Carroll’s minutes was expected, but not to this extent. DeMar DeRozan holds the starting wing spot, and is backed up by Lonnie Walker IV. If and when Lonnie Walker IV has an off night, the struggling Marco Belinelli serves as the back-up veteran safeguard - not Carroll.
Can DeMarre Caroll find time from Popovich at the 4? Not unless the game has already been decided by a 20 point margin. Trey Lyles, Rudy Gay, and even rookie Drew Eubanks are ahead of Carroll in the depth chart at power forward. Carroll’s 2.2 ppg is his lowest point total since his 3rd year in the league, and has left all Spurs fans to question his role within the organization.
Eric Gay / AP Photo
No front office pays a player $7 million over 3 years to sit at the end of the bench, scavenging for minutes. A trade is possible, and with rumours of DeRozan or Aldridge being shipped out, Carroll’s contract could complement a deal to make the money work in a mid-season blockbuster.
The trade deadline looms, and if Carroll gets stuck in San Antonio, he will most likely maintain his current role as Popovich tries to sneak into the playoffs while simultaneously spoon-feeding minutes to the young guys on the squad.
Carroll’s best shot of getting solid minutes is by beating out fellow vet Marco Bellineli in terms of consistent bench production and by aptly guarding opposing wings on defense. If the front office wishes to keep Carroll, the only real reason I could imagine is to provide veteran experience to a young team, but under such a large contract, I doubt that was the intention when acquiring him.
A buyout seems like a far-fetched idea, as after this season DeMarre still has two more years on his deal, and San Antonio would have to pay a hefty price. Although the future direction of DeMarre Carroll in San Antonio is unclear, a front office known for its excellence will certainly try its best to pull some strings and get the most out of Carroll after missing out on Davis Bertans’ offensive explosion.
Feature image courtesy of Rob Carr // Getty Images