The dust has begun to settle in free agency for the Atlanta Hawks, and the reality is that DeMarre Carroll has moved on to the Toronto Raptors. If you've been asleep for the better part of a week, Carroll agreed a four-year, $60 million contract to move to Canada, and the Hawks shifted gears by adding Tiago Splitter to bolster the frontcourt.
In an interview with Bleacher Report radio on Sunday, Carroll revealed some of his thought process in making the choice to go to Toronto, including the fact that the Hawks indicated it was a decision to keep either Paul Millsap or himself.
DeMarre Carroll tells us @BR_Radio that Atlanta told him that it came down to him or Paul Millsap— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 5, 2015
It should come as no surprise that Atlanta had to make such a decision, as the salary cap mechanics just didn't allow for the team to keep both players at market value. Without diving into specifics (again), the two-year contracts signed by Carroll and Millsap prior to the 2013-2014 season allowed for only "early" bird rights this season, meaning that they would have been forced to take significant discounts to remain in Atlanta as a pairing.
While some (irrational) Hawks fans disparage him for exiting the stage in Atlanta, Carroll appears to have simply extracted maximum value after being wildly underpaid for two seasons.
DeMarre Carroll on @BR_Radio on Toronto: "I came in and realized this team really wants me & the coach really wants me..." (1/2)....— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 5, 2015
".... At the same time, then they threw the money at me, and that was even bigger." (DeMarre Carroll on @BR_Radio)— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 5, 2015
It would be aggressive to state that DeMarre simply grabbed the most money and ran, but his "even bigger" claim above indicates that the money did come into play and, frankly, that is justified. At the age of 28, Carroll has earned less than $10 million in his NBA career, and while that is monopoly money for the majority of fans, the opportunity to guarantee himself $60 million over four seasons should not go unnoticed.
In true fashion to his personality, however, Carroll was deferential to both Mike Budenholzer and Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder (who is a former Hawks assistant) for helping to develop his current playing style.
DeMarre Carroll credits Quin Snyder & Mike Budenholzer for developing his name. Snyder was 1st coach to work on his footwork. @BR_Radio— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 5, 2015
There is no question that DeMarre Carroll is a vastly better player now than when he arrived two seasons ago, and it is easy to forget that expectations were low for his contributions in Atlanta. It is a classic story of hard work leading to improvement, and the Junkyard Dog remains one of the easiest players in the NBA to root for on a daily basis.
Some may knock Carroll on his way out the door, but he poured sweat and invested heavily in the Atlanta Hawks organization during his time. We wish him well.