DeMarre Carroll thumbed through some files on his phone and then showed reporters a photo that perfectly captured what he’s been up to lately.
It showed the Toronto Raptors forward multitasking. Sprawled on a couch with a huge ice pack wrapped around his knee, he had his two-year-old daughter, Lailah, nestled next to him as he bottle-fed his newborn son Amare, all while studying an NBA game on TV.
Before Monday’s game, Carroll spoke to the media for the first time since he hobbled through a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 6 with his right knee “swollen bigger than a grapefruit.” He underwent arthroscopic surgery on that knee three days later in New York, and Carroll said his exercise now is very limited and he has no idea when he’ll return.
The Raptors were back home Monday after a five-game road swing – including one in London, England – and kicking off a seven-game home-stand. James Johnson was starting in Carroll’s spot at small forward for the sixth straight contest. Carroll didn’t travel with the team to London, using the time to recover from the surgery and be present for the birth of his son.
He initially went to New York just to visit the knee specialist while the team was nearby to play the Brooklyn Nets. He decided to have Dr. David Altchek do the procedure right away at The Hospital for Special Surgery, so his recovery could begin immediately.
Carroll had missed nine games back in December with a right knee contusion, then returned later that month and played in five games. He said the knee first started bothering him when he landed on it awkwardly back in November in a game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
“I had a lot of inflammation in my knee for a long period of time,” Carroll said. “I just want to get back out on the court. I just want to play at a level I know I can play at. I tried to play through it; it didn’t work.”
The Raptors signed Carroll to a four-year, $60-million (U.S.) free-agent deal in the summer. He also suffered with plantar fasciitis earlier this season, a condition that causes severe pain in the heel and bottom of the foot.
Carroll, who has taken to calling himself “JYD 2.0,” was averaging 11.7 points and 4.8 rebounds, and was playing 31.9 minutes a game in 23 games before the surgery. The 29-year-old plays many roles for the Raptors, from shooting three-pointers to rebounding and defending the opponent’s best offensive player.
“He filled a huge role on defence and we’ve had to fill that by committee – with James, Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, Cory Joseph – we’re doing it by committee,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “It’s very hard to replace a guy with his experience, know-how and respect around the league. Next man up. We’ve got to make sure we take care of it, no matter who it is.”
While Carroll seemed to have a big impact early this season, for the most part he hasn’t performed like he did last year for the Atlanta Hawks, a team that battled to the Eastern Conference Finals. He was the gritty defender the Hawks used to guard LeBron James in that series. Offensively, he shot 48.7 per cent from the field last year, quite different from the 38.8 per cent he’s been averaging as a Raptor.
“I feel like it’s a blessing in disguise, because now my feet feel better and my body’s healing,” Carroll said of time off to recover. “I’ve got a lot more to give.”
Limited to cheering from the sidelines, Carroll closed his media session with a plug for his teammates as the deadline for NBA all-star game votes was nearing at midnight.
“Vote for my boys DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry,” Carroll said. “They better be in the all-star game, or there’s going to be trouble from the Junkyard Dog.”
Earlier Monday, USA Basketball named DeRozan to its 30-man list of finalists from which it will choose a 12-man squad for the 2016 Olympics. Lowry was not on the list.Report Typo/Error