TORONTO — Despite not playing in a game in almost three months because of an injury, DeMarre Carroll thinks he will be able to get himself back up to speed before the Toronto Raptors' post-season run begins.
Carroll met with media on Wednesday prior to the Raptors tipping off against the Atlanta Hawks to update his situation. It was the first time he had spoken in months.
"I play defence, I can go out there and play defence. I don't even have to make a shot," Carroll said. "I can impact the game defensively for this team and don't have to take a shot. You have other guys, guys who we depend on to score like DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. I've just got to go out there and play defence.
"After playing in the Eastern Conference final with Atlanta (last season), I understand what it takes and what role I need to play. All I need (are) a couple games (for conditioning)," he added.
Carroll has not played for the Raptors since Jan. 3, having had arthroscopic surgery on his knee on Jan. 6.
At the time, the Raptors said the procedure revealed no structural damage, and was just a matter of clearing out debris. Carroll, who signed a four-year, US$60-million contract with the Raptors in July, said he initially hurt his knee on Nov. 13 against New Orleans, and made it worse on Nov. 22 against the Clippers when he collided with centre DeAndre Jordan.
Carroll said his rehabilitation was going according to schedule until approximately three weeks ago. After the second of two four-on-four scrimmages with some of the Raptors' younger players, he noticed some swelling around the knee.
"When you have swelling, my initial thought is what I've been through all of my life — that means something is wrong," Carroll said. "I just wanted to get it checked out. I didn't want to put my knee at any risk. That's why me and Alex (McKechnie, the Raptors' director of sports science) went and saw several doctors, high-profile doctors. They gave me a good report. Hopefully we can ramp it up."
The Raptors did not give a timeline for Carroll's return to game action when he had the surgery, although multiple reports suggested his recovery could take between eight and 10 weeks. Carroll did not give an updated timeline for his return on Wednesday, although with just two weeks and nine games remaining before the end of the regular season, there is not much time.
Carroll said he wanted to speak to the media to clear up the speculation that he would not return this season, saying he and the team were just being cautious. He also said that he and the Raptors have been on the same page during his recovery.
"The way I play, I play like a dog," Carroll said. "When you play like a dog, you can't go out there being passive. I don't want to be a poodle out there. I want to be like a bulldog. They didn't want to put my knee at risk. They just wanted me to go out there and give me the best outlet to play my kind of basketball."
In 23 games this season, Carroll is averaging 11.7 points and 4.8 rebounds and shooting 39 per cent from the field.
Eric Koreen, The Canadian Press