DeMarre Carroll hasn’t held his tongue since the Raptors traded him in a salary dump to the Brooklyn Nets on July 9. And in his July 19 introductory presser with local Nets media — after already addressing his role in Toronto’s offense — Carroll acknowledged again that he wasn’t the best fit for the Raptors’ isolation-heavy system that ran primarily through DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and, later, Serge Ibaka.
“Yeah, that’s definitely fair to say,” Carroll said, according to the New York Post’s Brian Lewis. “I had my share of iso already, so team-ball is my forte. 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.”
The Raptors acquired Carroll, then one of the league’s premier 3-and-D wings, in the summer of 2015 as he rehabbed from the right knee contusion he sustained the season prior playing for the Hawks. He later underwent surgery on that knee and his numbers have dipped ever since.
Carroll averaged 8.9 points on 40 percent shooting from the field and 34 percent shooting from three-point range for the Raptors last season. He saw spotty minutes in the playoffs and put up just 4.2 points per game as Toronto struggled in the first round against Milwaukee before ultimately getting swept by Cleveland.
This isn’t the first time Carroll has blasted his former team since his trade
Shortly after Toronto shipped him to Brooklyn, Carroll made several comments about his tenure with the Raptors in a July 10 story published by The Toronto Sun’s Ryan Wolstat.
First, he was upset Toronto continued to play an isolation style of basketball:
“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.
“If you’ve been playing ISO ball so long, and that’s all you know, it’s going to be kind of hard. I think you have to bring certain guys in, certain coaches in, to really build that type of culture and I feel like Toronto is an ISO team, that’s what they win off (of), that’s what they’ve been playing off of for five, six years now.”
Next, Carroll said his teammates didn’t trust each other:
“They say they’re going to try something different, I would love to see it (work). It’s always good to do it,” he said, adding he believes they will start the season trying to stick to the new plan.
“But once adversity hits and stuff starts going wrong, guys are going to go back to ISO basketball, that’s how it is. You’ve got to trust it. It’s one of those things you’ve got to build, you’ve just got to trust each other. This year, I feel like a lot of guys didn’t trust each other and a lot of guys, they didn’t feel like other guys could produce or (be) given the opportunity, so there was a lot of lack of trust on our team, so that’s what hindered us from going (as far as they wanted to go).”
Those comments sparked harsh criticism from former NBA champion Stephen Jackson, who said on ESPN’s The Jump with Rachel Nichols that Carroll “wasn’t good enough to have an opinion.”
“DeMarre Carroll, why are you even talking? If anybody passes you the ball, you should be happy. Play defense. You’re Bruce Bowen. Just go in the corner, shoot 3s and be happy. You shouldn’t even have an input, you’re not good. You can shoot 3s in the corner and you can [play defense].”
When Nichols came to Carroll’s defense and said he wasn’t a bad player, Jackson said: “He’s not good enough to have an opinion. He’s not. Everyone has a voice in the NBA now. He’s not gonna take no team to the playoffs. He’s not a guy that shouldn’t even start, actually.”
In the end, the Raptors may have done Carroll a favor
Toronto traded Carroll to the Nets this summer for Justin Hamilton, a move that saved Toronto $30 million over the next two years. The rugged, 3-and-D forward reunites with Kenny Atkinson, now Brooklyn’s head coach who was an assistant in Atlanta during Carroll’s tenure.
“My biggest thing with Kenny is, he gets it,” Carroll said, according to the New York Post. “He played overseas for years, and his communication skills are one of the best in the league. He gets the most out of players as a coach. That’s what you have to have, that level of communication; and he has it.”
In his final season in Atlanta, Carroll averaged 12.6 points on 49 percent shooting from the field and 39.5 percent from three. In the playoffs, those numbers improved to 14.6 points and six rebounds on 40 percent shooting from downtown.
Brooklyn posted the NBA’s worst record last season, but shook up the roster by trading Brook Lopez for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov. The Nets became the eighth-best defensive team in the NBA after the All-Star break last season. Carroll’s addition projects to help Brooklyn’s young core on both ends of the floor.