Brooklyn Nets 2018-19 Primer: DeMarre Carroll looks to duplicate career year

DeMarre Carroll revived his NBA career in his first year with the Brooklyn Nets, putting together a career year at age 31. Entering a contract year, what’s next?

Entering his first season with the Brooklyn Nets in 2017-18, veteran forward DeMarre Carroll was looking to get his NBA career back on trade after two disappointing seasons with the Toronto Raptors.

Carroll, the 27th overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2009 NBA Draft, had faced tougher challenges.

Twice waived out of the league early in his career, Carroll climbed from spare part to a solid rotation role with the Utah Jazz before landing with the Atlanta Hawks in 2013.

With the Hawks, the man nicknamed JYD 2.0 (Junkyard Dog, the nickname once owned by NBA journeyman Jerome Williams a generation ago) became a solid 3-and-D wing on a contending club.

That earned him his first big payday, a four-year, $60 million free agent deal from the Raptors in July 2015.

Carroll had injured a knee during the 2015 playoffs while still with the Hawks and re-injured it during his first season in Toronto, limiting him to 26 games in the regular season before he was able to return for the Raptors’ run to the conference finals in 2016.

In 2016-17, he started 72 games, but his playing time dipped to 26.1 minutes per game and his numbers dipped accordingly.

He averaged just 8.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game and shot .400/.341/.761, not what was expected from a guy who put up a .487/395/.702 slash line in his final season with the Hawks.

In the playoffs, Carroll was eventually benched and averaged only 15.5 minutes per game as the Raptors won 51 games — then a franchise record — before being dismantled by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round.

The Raptors, eager to move on from the two years and $30.2 million remaining on Carroll’s deal, found a taker in the Brooklyn Nets, who acquired Carroll along with the 2018 picks used to take Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs in exchange for spare part Justin Hamilton.

But Carroll found himself again last season, averaging a career-high 13.5 points per game while starting all 73 of his appearances and averaging 6.6 rebounds and a career-best 2.0 assists in 29.9 minutes a night. His slash line improved to .414/.361/.764, as well.

Trade talks are swirling a bit around Carroll as he enters the final season of his contract, whether it is as a salary filler in a potential trade for a star player or — if the Nets’ season goes pear-shaped — a move to an interested contender at the trade deadline.

None of that should matter to Carroll, who has played for seven teams in nine seasons and has been traded twice before, including once at the deadline.

In 2011, he was part of the package the Grizzlies sent to the Houston Rockets while Memphis was bringing back veteran Shane Battier for their stretch run.

Carroll has had highs and lows in his career, to be sure. Cut by the Rockets in April 2011 and again by the Denver Nuggets in February 2012, Carroll was also named Eastern Conference Player of the Month (along with the other Atlanta starters) in January 2015.

Carroll turned 32 on July 27 and was briefly the oldest player on the roster over the offseason. One day younger than Timofey Mozgov, Carroll moved to the old man spot after Mozgov was dealt to the Charlotte Hornets on July 6.

But with the arrival of Jared Dudley, who turned 33 on July 10, Carroll again became the second-oldest Net. Dudley and Carroll are the only thirtysomethings on the roster, as well.

What that means for Carroll is that he can be a quiet leader on the floor and off, showing the younger Nets how to play winning defense (a key to any hopes of improving in 2018-19) and doing the little things and the dirty jobs that don’t appear in the box score.

There are much worse things to have in a locker room than a guy who has been a consummate pro throughout his career, while also overcoming adversity and fighting his way back into the league to establish a solid resume.