Newest Raptor DeMarre Carroll courtesy www.demarrecarroll5.com
Written by Jose Colorado for On Point Basketball
Masai Ujiri isn’t playing around – he wants to win now.
Following an uneventful trade deadline this past season by the former Executive of the Year, the Nigerian opened up the NBA free agency period (officially beginning today) with a bang, signing DeMarre Carroll, the former Atlanta Hawk, to a four-year, $60 million deal with no options as reported by ESPN.
The signing signifies one main thing to me – the Toronto Raptors are moving on without Terrence Ross.
Following uneventful stints in Memphis, Houston, Denver, and Utah, Carroll began to establish himself as a steady “3-and-D” specialist two years ago in ATL. The small forward averaged 12.6 points per game on 48.7 per cent shooting and 39.5 per cent shooting from beyond the arc with the Hawks last season.
Carroll’s presence on the squad provides a layer to the dinos that is desperately needed: toughness, grit, leadership, and consistency– all elements that were tragically exposed during the Washington Wizards first round massacre.
While Carroll’s ceiling comes nowhere close to Ross’ potential peak, the Raptors direction is clear. The franchise is in a ‘win-now’ mode as shown by the repeated reports of Ujiri going after established primed players (i.e. LaMarcus Alridge and Wesley Matthews).
Ross has yet to deliver on all of the gaudy athleticism and potential that oozed from him three seasons ago when he was drafted out of the University Washington (not that he won’t eventually, just that it won’t be in Toronto). In particular, the 24-year-old has lacked the offensive aggression/development (i.e. settling for contested jumpers) and defensive intensity/intangibles that are desperately needed on the current squad.
In Carroll, the Raptors essentially receive a slightly upgraded version of Ross on the offensive end – a spot up three point shooter with a limited ability to create off the dribble, while also receiving a substantial upgrade on the defensive end. Carroll is bigger, stronger, and guards harder on a consistent basis.
It makes no sense to me to keep Ross and Carroll together. Should Lou Williams be retained, he would provide another element to the team with an offensive – albeit at times erratic – spark off the bench unmatched by either player. Ross would then remain a poor man’s version of Carroll off the bench.
On the surface it wouldn’t appear to be a bad scenario but the uncertainty creeps in when considering the money as the reigning Sixth Man of the Year will reportedly seek a three – or – four-year deal in the $8 to $9 million range with strong interest expected from multiple clubs as reported by Sportsnet.
The Raptors are also in desperate need of shoring up their front line – four big men hit free agency today, including starter Amir Johnson.
Sacrifices will have to be made somewhere – what would be the reasoning for not leveraging Ross in a deal? The team can’t wait on his potential any longer.
With the Carroll signing it remains clear Coach Dwane Casey has found his desired starter at the three spot – a defensive-minded, selfless player with the grit and intangibles that mirrors those who helped earn Casey his first ring as an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks a few years ago.
And for a young player like Ross, who has seen his coach’s trust in him consistently diminish throughout his Raptors career, the message really couldn’t be any clearer.
Written by Jose Colorado
Edited by Drew Ebanks
***Opinions expressed are the thoughts of the writer and not necessarily On Point Basketball***