Brooklyn Nets forward DeMarre Carroll came off the bench and changed the game with his 2nd quarter defensive flurry and ability to get free throws.
Given the way Carroll seems to have a knack for punishing his former employers around the NBA, the Nets might not want to make that list.
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Carroll put up his third double-double of the season Wednesday night in Brooklyn’s 135-130 win over the Denver Nuggets, a team with which Carroll spent four games in the 2011-12 season.
He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds to go with a career-high-matching six assists and season-high four steals and his big second quarter at both ends helped the Nets roar back from a double-digit deficit in the first quarter to take a 12-point halftime lead.
Carroll only made one shot in that second quarter, a layup off an amazing Euro step, no-look combo from Shabazz Napier, but scored eight points with four boards and three steals in 11 minutes as Brooklyn turned a 27-13 first-quarter deficit into a 72-60 halftime advantage.
His 18 points came on 3-of-8 shooting, but he did knock down 2-of-4 from long range. It was at the foul line, however, where Carroll made a living, going 10-for-13. He was a game-high plus-24 on the night as the Nets ended a three-game slide with a season-sweep clinching win over Denver.
And about the whole former team thing, Carroll seems to take this stuff personally. He has 32 points in two games against the Atlanta Hawks this season and had 22 points in his lone meeting against the Houston Rockets.
Against the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft, the Memphis Grizzlies, Carroll put up 41 points with 17 rebounds in two games this season.
While it seems Carroll enjoys preying on teams he used to play for, the most important thing the 10th-year veteran has done this season is make the adjustment from starter to reserve to play a huge role for one of the best bench units in the NBA.
Used almost exclusively as a starter the last five seasons, Carroll has come off the bench in all 44 games in which he’s appeared this season, averaging 11.2 points and 5.1 rebounds in 25.2 minutes per game after a slow start.
Carroll missed the first 11 games this season after having an arthroscopic procedure on his right ankle, but over his last 20 games has put up averages of 14.0 points and 5.6 boards.
His shooting numbers are still not up to his usual levels at 38.6 percent overall and 34.0 percent from deep, but he’s getting to the foul line almost four times per game as he has become masterful at luring defenders into initiating a little bit of contact and turning it into a shooting foul.
The Nets may have some interest in bringing back Carroll, who will be 33 by the time next season starts, but not at anything approaching the $15.4 million he’s making this season in the last year of the four-year, $60 million deal he signed with the Toronto Raptors in July 2015.
He can still defend — and get active with the hands, as evidenced by his four thefts Wednesday — and knock down shots. But as the Nets prepare to make the next move in their rebuilding process with lots of available cap space this summer, an aging role player might not fit those plans.