ANNAPOLIS, Md. — There’s no question the July trade that sent forward DeMarre Carroll from Toronto to the Nets was a straight-up salary dump. The price to add the final two years of Carroll’s contract worth $30 million to the Nets’ balance sheet included first and second-round draft picks, and the Raptors had to take center Justin Hamilton, who immediately was waived.
It was a not-so-fond farewell for Carroll, who was a full-time starter for a couple of 50-win Raptors teams but who also suffered knee troubles and didn’t always mesh with the backcourt tandem of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, who dominated the ball. But one team’s trash is another team’s treasure, and Carroll joins the Nets as an experienced leader, three-point shooter and dedicated disciple of Nets coach Kenny Atkinson.
Carroll credits Atkinson and former Hawks assistant Quin Snyder and current Hawks assistant Darvin Ham for developing his potential in the two seasons he spent in Atlanta. “It’s a great opportunity for me, especially to play with one of the coaches who helped my game,” Carroll said after Wednesday’s intense training camp practice at the U.S. Naval Academy. “I’m just actually excited to be healthy and to be here and play with these guys.”
Adjusting to Atkinson’s system has been easy because it’s what Carroll was used to in Atlanta, which means he also can mentor the Nets’ younger players. “I understand the reads,” Carroll said. “The only difference now is you have a bunch of young guys who have to understand they have to play together, they have to make a good-to-great pass and understand how to feed off each other. In Atlanta, we were an older group. This is a young group, so we have to keep chipping away and get better.”
Veteran leaders Randy Foye and Brook Lopez have moved on, so, Carroll will step readily into that crucial locker-room void along with Jeremy Lin and Trevor Booker.
“He’s going to help me a lot,” Atkinson said of Carroll. “He can help reinforce our principles if a new guy has a question, ‘Does this work or not?’ Even for the veteran guys, he has a voice. The system can be successful in this league, and they’ve got to trust it. In Atlanta, it took us two and a half years to get complete trust.”
Although the Carroll deal was viewed as a salary dump, as were trades that brought Allen Crabbe and Timofey Mozgov, all three add skills the Nets needed along with experience and figure to play major roles.
“The word ‘salary dump’ is like a motivational word,” Carroll said. “You know what you need to do, and you know what you bring to the team. For some teams, you don’t bring what they quote-unquote want, so you try to bring it to another team. I wouldn’t call me and Mozgov and Crabbe ‘salary dumps,’ I would just say it’s another opportunity for us.”
Carroll said leadership comes naturally to him and he welcomes the opportunity with the Nets. “I’m one of those locker-room guys,” Carroll said. “I’m not scared to get in your face. I’m not scared to pull you to the side and talk to you. It’s just my personality. But I’ve got to prove it, and I’ve also got to go on the court and prove it. I’ve got a lot of great opportunities here in Brooklyn. I’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Notes & quotes: Crabbe left practice with a sprained left ankle, but X-rays were negative . . . Atkinson said he could envision Carroll moving from small forward to power forward at times with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson playing center despite his 6-7 height because Hollis-Jefferson has a 7-3 wingspan that makes him an effective defender.