ORLANDO, Fla. — Opportunity is everything in the NBA.
There are many talented players floating around praying for one of the league's 30 teams to give them a shot. The process of finding a team willing to offer an opportunity can become as strenuous as playing in an actual game, which is understandable because of the small margin of error that's required to capitalize on an NBA audition.
DeMarre Carroll knows the process well. He's played with four different teams in his short career, looking for a team to give him a full season to grow and develop.
Carroll played in 71 games his rookie season with the Memphis Grizzlies, but no more than seven in the two years that followed. The road to NBA stability has been filled with highs and lows and many times looked like the NBA thing just wouldn't happen for Carroll.
Then the Utah Jazz called last February and gave him an opportunity, an opportunity that he's made the most of.
"Utah calling me was a blessing," Carroll said. "I've been different places and had some opportunities. Around the time when my agent was talking to Utah I didn't think it was going to happen because of the different things I've been through in my life. But I decided to be a professional, be ready and just wait things out."
Playing in 20 games for the Jazz last season, Carroll showcased more than a hunger to stick in the NBA. He showcased a versatile game that, once fully developed, could prove to be a nice piece on a young team. Carroll went from getting cut by the Nuggets to a starting role with the Jazz (starting in their final nine games in the 2012 season).
"It's a blessing to be out here and have a chance to stay in the rhythm of things," he said. "A lot of people weren't fortunate enough to have the opportunity I have. I'm just doing my best to make the best of it. I'm blessed."
Carroll has played well for the Jazz during the Orlando Summer League. He missed Wednesday's game after suffering an injured ankle on Tuesday, but bounced back with a few solid minutes in Thursday's game against the Pacers. Still bothered by the ankle, Carroll only logged six minutes. Still, the coaches are very impressed with Carroll's skills, maturity and mentality.
"You really admire guys like DeMarre," Jazz Summer League coach Sidney Lowe said. "They're not going to get the accolades, but they're going to make plays that help you win the game."
"You admire guys like that because they accept who they are and who they are is good enough to be in this league and a main factor on your ballclub. The fact that he knows who he is impresses me most. Knowing who he is and doing the best he can is what he does."
The Jazz are hoping that Carroll can continue to develop and become one of their key players. They see the mix of talent, youth, work ethic and hunger that has become a signature of Jazz basketball. But his road won't get any easier. The expectation is that Carroll will work harder now that he has an opportunity to stick with a team long-term.
"I'm going to continue to work hard and stay within myself," Carroll said. "When I got to Memphis I got outside myself and tried to do things I really couldn't do. Here in Utah I'm back to being myself. Hustling, playing tough defense and just being that junkyard dog on the floor. My biggest thing is to bring energy every night and make the most of this opportunity."
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