DeMarre Carroll’s time with the San Antonio Spurs was confusing, to say the least. It was thus no surprise when news came that he’d been bought out, and will instead play for the small-ball Rockets in the latter half of the season. Long-time head coach Gregg Popovich later claimed that this move was about the Spurs trying to do the veteran forward a solid.
Pop said DeMarre Carroll buy out was about #Spurs trying to do "something good for him…He’s a good guy, and he wasn’t playing. He wasn’t going to play. There are too many people ahead of him."
— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) February 22, 2020
The 10-year veteran was signed after Knick-turned-Clipper Marcus Morris backed out of a supposed done deal with the Spurs. Carroll had a solid year coming off of Brooklyn, averaging 11 points in a little over 25 minutes of play. Moreover, the forward played in a respectable 67 games. Everyone thus raised their eyebrows when the Spurs hardly let the 33-year-old step on court. In fact, since October, Carroll had only racked up an average of 9 minutes playing time in only 15 games.
Some surmised that perhaps it was San Antonio’s somewhat funky roster. The team was guard-heavy with Dejounte Murray making a comeback, Bryn Forbes continuing as a starter, and Derrick White, Patty Mills, and Lonnie Walker IV coming off the bench. DeMar DeRozan, who usually played at the two, now frequently logs in minutes as a small forward. Rudy Gay was often the second unit, playing 21 minutes per game off the bench. Meanwhile, 34-year-old LaMarcus Aldridge embraced his role as a center, and Trey Lyles has been a steady starting power forward. There was nowhere to fit Carroll. To borrow Pop’s words, “There are too many people ahead of him.”
Perhaps Carroll is best off in another team. The Houston Rockets are in fact notably playing small ball, and the 6’6” guard will be perfect for their novel strategy.