LOS ANGELES — DeMarre Carroll is walking a tight rope when it comes to how he feels about his playing situation.
On one hand, the small forward remains grateful that the Utah Jazz gave him a chance to resurrect his NBA career after he was released early in the 2011-12 season by Denver.
But then, there's that part of the competitor that is conflicted and has struggled coming to grips with the inconsistency of his role this season.
"I feel like without the Jazz I wouldn't even be in the position I'm in now for me to be able to display my talent to 29 other teams," said Carroll, who mentioned his impending free agency. "That's how I look at it. Whenever I step on the court, I'm not only playing for Utah, I'm playing for 29 other teams."
This came to light before Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers when it was announced that Carroll would start for Marvin Williams, who was out with right knee inflammation.
Starting is an obvious positive for Carroll. But his fourth start this season comes a game after he logged a DNP-CD (zero minutes in Friday's 116-114 loss).
"That's how it goes," Carroll said. "Until I can get to a team that really want to put me in a rotation, really want to play, I'll just take advantage of my opportunity whenever I get it."
Until Sunday, those opportunities had been hard to come by in recent games. After playing double-digit minutes for 19 consecutive games, Carroll only played a combined nine minutes in the previous two outings before Friday's no-go.
Carroll's decline in minutes coincided with Alec Burks' sudden playing-time bonanza.
The shift was reminiscent of the beginning of the season when Carroll had hit-and-miss action for the first nine games, including five zero-minute nights.
"I know just to stay in the business you've got to be a true professional," Carroll said. "Everything I do, I want to be a top player, a first-rate player. It's just one of them things, man, I've just got to keep dealing with. I've been through this before. It's just one of them things. You've just got to keep pushing."
The 6-8 Carroll, an energetic defender who's been working on adding offense to his game, admitted it's treading on "shaky ground" to moan about minutes. As such, the 26-year-old was trying to be careful while bouncing back and forth between expressing reservations about his ever-changing role and showing gratitude about chances the Jazz have afforded him.
"They gave me the opportunity they gave me last year," said Carroll, who's played for Memphis, Houston, Denver and Utah since 2009. "I don't want to tell coach (Tyrone) Corbin what to do. I put my trust in him. I think he's a good coach. Whenever he calls upon me, I'll be ready."
At the same time, Carroll made it clear that he hopes for more stability as his career progresses — whether that's with the Jazz or one of the other 29 teams.
"If I can get to a team where I'm on steady ground and a steady rotation, you know, that's always (going to) be a good thing," he said. "Right now I'm just taking advantage of every opportunity."2 comments on this story
That's precisely what Corbin expects from him.
"It's part of being on a team. You get what you get. You don't get what you want all the time," Corbin said. "He's a part of our team. We expect all guys to be ready to play whether they're starting or coming off the bench or whether you play the next night or not. You've got to be ready to go."