Four Atlanta Hawks – Jeff Teague, Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver – were named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
So, every Atlanta starter except DeMarre Carroll.
“It’s not that big of a deal,” a chuckling Carroll said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It’s good recognition for our team that four guys got to go and the coaching staff. I’ve been getting a little sympathy love. Everybody’s calling me the Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons, but I take it with a grain of salt.”
That’s good – because Carroll has been an indispensable piece for a Hawks team that has the second best record in basketball (43-11). He is averaging 12.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
“I define my role as basically (the) junkyard dog: do whatever the team needs me to do,” Carroll said. “If that’s to go out there and bring them energy defensively, (I’ll do it). Whatever my team needs me to do, that’s what I’ll do. If it’s (offense), that’s what I’ll do. I just think I bring the energy. That’s the most effective thing I do.”
With all five starters averaging between 12.0 and 17.0 points, it seems like Atlanta is having a lot of fun this year. That’s because they are.
“Oh yeah, it’s great, man,” Carroll said. “Moving the ball, everybody’s getting shots. We have no egos. (We have) high-character guys in the locker room. It’s just a fun team to be around.”
Cynics say that the Hawks will come back down to earth in the second half of the season – Atlanta lost three of six before the All-Star break – but Carroll isn’t buying it.
“We know (what we did wrong in) those three games that we lost,” he said. “Not finishing games, not playing the way we needed to play. In those last three games, we was up by a big margin, and we let teams come back. We’re not worried about that. We’re not worried about what outside people say. If all the teammates believe, (if) the coaching staff believes and if the city believes, that’s all we worry about.”
If there’s anything the Hawks should worry about, though, it’s rebounding. They’re sixth in the league in scoring offense (103.4 points per game), fourth in scoring defense (96.9) and second in assists (25.7). But they rank 27th on the glass (40.9 per game).
Should we expect a move before Thursday’s trade deadline to bolster that front line a bit?
“I think we can win a championship with the guys we got,” Carroll said. “I think the biggest thing for us is we really have to focus in on rebounding. We were focusing in on so much other things that we really let rebounding be a slippage. I think once we put it together as a collective effort, I think rebounds won’t be a problem.”
Carroll was also asked about general manager Danny Ferry, who took a leave absence from the team in September. Ferry, 48, made inflammatory comments about Luol Deng during a conference call, saying he “has a little African in him,” and that he’s “like a guy who would have a nice store out front and sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.”
Carroll said the team does not have any ill-will toward Ferry.
“He was a great part of (building) this team,” Carroll said. “He brought in guys and gave myself and Paul Millsap bigger roles. He really kind of put this team together. I think Danny knows he made a mistake and we understand that, but I don’t think he’s a racist. I just think he made a mistake. The comments he made was not good comments, but at the same time, everybody makes mistakes. I think the team will welcome him back with open arms. I know if he’s not a GM in Atlanta, he’ll be a GM somewhere.”