History: The Houston Rockets signed DeMarre Carroll following his release from the San Antonio Spurs in February. The Rockets brought Carroll in to add more versatility on the defensive end, but minutes were scarce for the 33-year-old swingman. While averaging 16 minutes per game, Carroll appeared in six games with the Rockets averaging 6.7 points on 56.0% shooting from the field.
Carroll last took the court during Houston’s 126-106 loss to the Magic, three days before the league’s suspension on March 11. The chances of Carroll getting out of Mike D’Antoni’s doghouse would have seemed improbable in a traditional push towards the playoffs. However, given the unprecedented circumstances, expect to see the Rockets use Carroll more inside the NBA Bubble in Orlando.
Outlook: During D’Antoni’s press conference on Tuesday, Houston’s head coach joked that social distancing is the way the Rockets play defense. Although sad, but true. Carroll could help solve a bevy of Houston’s defensive problems.
He is a versatile defender who can guard every position on the court — something the Rockets are in need of giving their full commitment to small-ball. Last season, Carroll ingrained himself as one of the most reliable perimeter defenders for the Nets. In 67 games, he averaged a defensive net rating of 106.2 per game — while holding his opponents to 32.4% shooting from behind the arc.
In addition to his defensive presence, Carroll would provide Houston an additional three-point threat on the offensive end as a career 36.0% shooter from the outside. The Rockets received a small sample size of Carroll’s sharpshooting during an embarrassing defeat to the Hornets. He connected on three of his four attempts from the outside (75.0%) — scoring nine points in the loss.
D’Antoni revealed that he is planning on expanding his post-season rotation to a nine-man cycle. Although it is easy to anticipate which nine players D’Antoni will cycle through, it may be in his best interest to expand his playoff rotation to 10 in order to include Carroll. Adding additional minutes to the 6’8” two-way forward could be the most compelling distinction in departing the Orlando Bubble with the Larry O’Brien trophy in hand — than without.