Kawhi Leonard has had a trying time in 2017-18, struggling with injuries all season long.
And last week, the Spurs announced that Leonard has a partial tear in his right shoulder, but has since played one game this past Saturday, when he dropped 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists in a win over the Nuggets.
In fact, since his season debut on December 12, he’s been in an out of the line-up. So it is not known if Leonard will actually play against the Nets on Wednesday.
But that didn’t stop DeMarre Carroll from discussing the prospect of playing against his friend, Mr. Leonard, who dropped 21 points in 26 minutes during a December 26 win over Brooklyn in San Antonio earlier this season. The two became friends thanks to a mutual acquaintance, Cory Joseph. He was a teammate of Leonard’s with the Spurs from 2011-2015 and with Carroll on the Raptors from 2015-2017.
Carroll, who had good showings against Leonard in the past while with the Atlanta Hawks, had two points on 1-of-10 shooting in statistically his worst game of the season.
In the rematch, if it does happen, Carroll is ready.
”Yeah for sure,” he said, asked if enjoyed facing the perennial Defensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player candidate. “We always get a little feisty but at the end of the day he’s a great player and I always look forward to the challenge.”
Against Leonard, Carroll has a collection of 17-point games in a pair of contests decided by 2 points each from the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, where Spurs’ East came up short against the actual Spurs.
From both of those encounters in particular, Leonard has a combined 15 points, but a 2-0 record.
Though, Carroll is looking for the victory on Wednesday, especially considering Brooklyn has lost 5-of-6, he knows that with or without Leonard in the fold, it will be difficult against that Spurs machine.
Needless to say, the unofficial Net spokesman has a tremendous amount of respect for Leonard, which he lent voice to on Tuesday afternoon.
“Kawhi’s a heck of a player,” said Carroll. “He does everything and he does it on both ends of the floor. He’s an MVP candidate. He does all the things you need on your team to help you win. So it’s going to be good, it’s always good when I go to play Kawhi because we’re still kind of cool a little bit.”
Meanwhile, Carroll told the Kansas City Star that he loves the organization and loves the city, now that HE is healthy. Carroll, who played at the University of Missouri, is putting up as good a season has he has in the course of his career, where he’s played for seven teams.
“When I’m healthy I can play the type of basketball I want to play,” said Carroll who has praised the Nets performance team. “When I’m not, I can’t.”
The 31-year-old Carroll, the team’s oldest player, says he relishes the veterans role and how it helps him and the team long term. He’s under contract through the end of next season.
“I’m the big brother,” he said. “I don’t mind. You’re trying to teach these guys good habits and build a culture. I think that’s my role here and to perform on the court. If I do those two things I can be a Brooklyn Net for a long time.”
- Now healthy, former MU star DeMarre Carroll on cusp of career year in Brooklyn - Alex Schiffer - Kansas City Star