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DeMarre Carroll goes from unwanted to sought-after player

Nets forward DeMarre Carroll gestures to a fan

Nets forward DeMarre Carroll gestures to a fan after hitting a basket against the Pistons in Detroit, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. Credit: AP / Paul Sancya

MILWAUKEE — The Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline is two weeks away, and it’s safe to say buyers will be shopping for deals with the Nets, where some of the NBA’s best bargains reside. The most obvious targets are point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who is having a breakout season, and wing man Joe Harris, who is shooting 40.4 percent from three-point range and will be a free agent this summer.

But veteran leader DeMarre Carroll, who has revived his career since joining the Nets last summer, also is drawing attention as a trade target. Now in his ninth season, Carroll is averaging 13.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists, all of which are career-highs.

According to a recent ESPN report, Detroit and New Orleans, in particular, are interested in what Carroll might add to their playoff push, but both would have trouble finding a salary-cap match to send to the Nets, who always are seeking draft-pick compensation.

“I’m old enough now that rumors are rumors and you don’t pay a lot of attention to it,” Carroll told Newsday before Tuesday’s loss in Oklahoma City. “You could take it positive either way. I could look at last year when I was injured and I didn’t have a great year in Toronto, I was considered a salary dump. Now, this year you’ve got a number of teams that really want me.

“But at the end of the day, I’m trying to help build a culture here, help these young guys. They look at me like a bigger brother. But it’s a business and I’m just trying to compete and play my best basketball.”

The Raptors were so anxious to unload the remaining two years of Carroll’s contract valued at $30 million that they packaged their first- and second-round draft picks in 2018 as part of the deal last July. Currently, those would be the 27th and 57th overall picks.

Given Carroll’s relationship with Atkinson, it will be interesting to see how the Nets handle trade interest in their veteran leader as well as in developmental projects Dinwiddie and Harris.

Mark Bartlestein, Carroll’s agent, is confident Nets general manager Sean Marks and Atkinson aren’t looking to move his client. “I’m sure there’s a lot of teams interested in DeMarre,” Bartlestein said. “He affects the game in a lot of different ways, and a lot of people would love to have him. But I know Sean Marks and Kenny value him big-time. I know for sure they’re not trying to trade him. There’s always conversations around the league and anything can happen, but I know the Brooklyn Nets put a great value on DeMarre . . . I want to make sure people realize that.”

Explaining the Nets’ approach to the trade interest some of their players are generating, Atkinson said, “We value continuity, but we also understand we need to improve. A lot of that is on Sean’s shoulders, thank God. But we talk constantly about those things. They’re never easy decisions when it comes down to having to deal a guy that you don’t want to let go because you’ve had him and he’s developed. But we also understand we need to get better.”

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