“Everyday. Everyday I’m doing this!”
If you follow DeMarre Carroll on social media, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Carroll calls himself “Senior Swag Daddy” for the illustrious outfits he wears, while yelling or hash-tagging “Every day.” Only, the slogan isn’t just a representation for his wardrobe. It’s his style – his hard-nosed, blue-collar work ethic that’s landed him a crucial role on a Brooklyn Nets team currently fighting for a playoff spot.
“I’m in the best shape of my career,” Carroll told NetsDaily with a big smile. “My body finally caught up and I’m playing much better basketball right now.”
Carroll, 32, is currently playing in his 10th season. Despite starting 73 games last season and filling the stat sheet with career-high’s, he hit a couple bumps in his second season with the Nets. Between a roster filled with young wings and an ankle injury earlier in the season, he was forced to work his way back to last year’s form where he averaged 13.5 points and 6.6 rebounds, both career-high’s.
He credits assistant coach Jordan Ott for helping him get his mind and body right.
“It was tough. I was coming back from that ankle injury and I was getting down on myself just because I wasn’t able to perform like I did last year, but he [Jordan Ott] just kept sending me clips – clips of me when I was playing good,” said Carroll. “It kept my mind right and then just working with me in the gym before games, after games, we were doing all the little things to get me back right. At the end of the day when I look at someone like Jordan, he helped me get back to playing the type of basketball I want to be playing.”
Indeed. Carroll is back to being the Swiss Army Knife the Nets need him to be. His numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page (11 points and five rebounds), but it’s the little things he brings to the team that do not go unnoticed. From hitting clutch shots to chasing after loose balls to being the scrappy rebounder off the bench, you can depend on Carroll to leave it all out there, night in and night out.
“DeMarre’s been huge since he got here last year,” Caris LeVert told NetsDaily. “There’s so much we’ve learned from him, his mentality, his experience, playoff experience, big-game experience. He’s communicated that with all of us – playing against the best teams and players around this league. It’s something we’ve needed to help prepare for those games.”
That’s one of the first things you’ll hear when you bring up DeMarre Carroll’s name around the Brooklyn Nets locker room; things that signify leadership and communication. He’s somewhat of a player-coach in the sense that he lets his actions speak for his game.
“He leads by example, but it’s also little things too. Longevity and patience to start. You know, you look at DeMarre and he started being successful later in his career and I think he’s the perfect example of patience, staying with it and trusting your own process. The work he’s put in shows and I think he’s starting to see the fruit to his labor,” added LeVert.
Simply calling DeMarre a veteran leader would be an understatement. In today’s NBA, you need a guy like Carroll, somebody who can knock down the three ball at an efficient rate and then get back on defense and make a play.
And like LeVert said: It all starts with having the right mentality.
“I just try and do whatever the team needs,” Carroll said. “They needed me to bring leadership, so I bring leadership, but it’s also what I’ve done on the court. My whole thing coming into this season was just doing whatever the team needed and to just build off last year. I had a great year last year and I wanted to come in and improve myself, improve this team and that’s just been my goal throughout the season. Anything to help this team improve and get wins.”
He’s bought in since Day One. Back in July of 2017, Toronto sent Carroll to Brooklyn along with two picks who turned out to be Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs – Brooklyn’s first and second-round picks from the last Draft. The trade was deemed a “salary dump” because of Carroll’s hefty contract that handicapped Toronto. The Nets gladly took back the picks and the “salary dump” in Carroll for Justin Hamilton.
He laughs as I remind him that he was once referred to as a salary dump.
“Hey man, they can call it whatever they want to call it. I never looked at it the way they did. You gotta know your worth, your value and what you can bring to the team. They thought I was a salary dump, but I knew if I was healthy, I’d come in here and play good basketball.”
It’s one of the many notches on Sean Marks’ belt in the three years he’s been GM of the Nets. While most think about guys like Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, etc. as those who’ve developed, improved, don’t discount Carroll, acquired in a salary dump in July 2017. He’s come a long way and has played an integral role in being the voice of the locker room and the type of player every team needs.
This is where things become difficult.
Carroll is set to be an unrestricted free agent this upcoming off-season and the Nets are looking to clear as much cap space so they can chase max free agents. Thing is, with a young and growing team like the Nets, it’s crucial you have a consistent veteran to keep things in perspective. It’s also crucial to have the talents that Carroll can bring. If you lose a guy like DeMarre, you not only lose his production on the court, but also the leadership he’s brought these past two seasons.
“Of course I want to be here long-term. The performance team, coaching staff is probably the best in the league. But at the end of the day, it’s a business and you still got to leave your doors open. Me, Kenny [Atkinson] and Sean [Marks] got a great relationship, but we’ll see. I’ll let my agent handle all that.”
Carroll reiterates that he understands he’s a free agent, but he’s also taking things day-by-day and game-by-game. After all, he’s that gift that keeps on giving for this young and upcoming Nets team chasing a playoff spot.
Carroll thinks a lot of the success the Nets are experiencing is organic.
“It’s Brooklyn grit,” Carroll told Sporting News. “Go around Brooklyn, it’s gritty. I feel like that’s the kind of culture we have here, and we want to be identified with Brooklyn grit. When you play the Brooklyn Nets, you are going to be in a tough battle. That’s the kind of culture we want to have here.”
In leaving the past in the past and letting the future settle itself when it comes, DeMarre Carroll understands he needs to bring the same energy to the Nets… Everyday.
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