Early Sunday morning, the Toronto Raptors traded DeMarre Carroll and picks to the Brooklyn Nets.

Toronto’s return was Justin Hamilton. The reasoning behind this move was simple, and it happened so the Raptors can get some money off of their books. When a team is trying to find that last piece of their contention puzzle, having the salary to spend is huge, and Carroll was eating into that without the production Toronto was expecting.

Over the final two years of his deal, the Raptors owed him about $30.2 million. That’s now Brooklyn’s problem. Luckily, it doesn’t matter. The Nets won’t be a contender anytime soon and can take on a contract like this because they have a huge about of cap space. Furthermore, they got two picks in the deal. When the Pacers traded away Paul George, they got none. During a rebuild, like the one the Nets are in, draft picks are the best currency. When Marks inherited the team, Billy King ruined their draft situation with numerous poor decisions. In an attempt to rectify that, Marks hasn’t been shy about taking on contracts for picks.

Back in February, Brooklyn traded Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough for Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton and the 22nd pick in this year’s draft. Although Nicholson’s contract isn’t too outrageous (four years, $26 million), the Wizards didn’t need it.

Initially, my gut tells me that the Nets won this deal. And I’m making sure to keep my bias out of it. (I’m a Nets fan. I don’t hate the Raptors.) When you look at the whole, Toronto gave up a solid defender with three-and-D potential, a first-rounder and a second-rounder for Justin Hamilton, who is likely to get limited minutes if Toronto holds onto him. I want to avoid getting all over-reactive and say that this deal was terrible and Masai Ujiri should be ashamed of himself, but the Raptors must’ve been desperate to move Carroll for such a little return.

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Back in July of 2015, Carroll got paid. Toronto gave him $60 million over four years, and their justification was easy — they’d have someone to slow down LeBron James in the playoffs. Was this true? Yeah, it had some truth, I guess. When the Hawks and Cavaliers met in the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals, Cleveland made quick work of them and dispatched them in four games. James damn near averaged a triple-double: 30.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 9.3 assists. Keep in mind that Kyrie Irving only played in two games and Kevin Love didn’t play at all, so that makes it just a bit easier to make James’ life tough. Carroll did that, and the only thing that shows LeBron had an off series was his 43.8 percent clip from the field. Other than that, he was his typical self. What only strengthened the Raptors belief was Carroll just had a career-best regular season. In 70 games, he averaged 12.6 points and 5.3 rebounds while boasting a true shooting percentage of 60.5.

People change, and it’s evident that the Raptors don’t believe Carroll’s worth it anymore. He only played in 26 games during the 2015-16 campaign because of chronic knee problems, but Carroll was rather productive when he stepped on the court. He shot 39 percent from three and put up 11 points a night, but he also averaged a career-best 1.7 steals.

For some reason, Carroll didn’t perform at the same level come playoffs. But I guess that’s what happens when you suit up for the Raptors.

Feb 5, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Toronto Raptors small forward DeMarre Carroll (5) is fouled by Brooklyn Nets power forward Trevor Booker (35) during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In 2015, Carroll was playing outstanding postseason basketball and was good for nearly 15 points and six rebounds a night. On top of that, defenses couldn’t leave him open because he was nailing his threes at a 40.3 percent clip. His first postseason go-round with Toronto was vastly different. However, it was somewhat excusable because he was coming off a knee injury. Carroll averaged 8.9 points and 4.1 boards while shooting 39 percent from the floor during the Raptors historic run. This year, he almost fell out of the rotation entirely.

His 15.5 minutes a night were the fewest since 2012 (18.3), and his appearance was wildly detrimental to the Raptors’ success. The once sought after defensive specialist impacted Toronto’s defense in a negative way, and they allowed 7.4 points more per 100 possession with Carroll on the court. That’s not a good look. And it doesn’t help that Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron were they two guys he’d have to guard.

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The Raptors aren’t going to suffer significantly from this trade. They’ll probably hover around the 50-win mark for another year. Next year’s draft isn’t going to be as loaded as this one, but there are going to be quality prospects I wouldn’t be shocked to see some guys skyrocket up the board if they put together a quality campaign this fall.

Toronto gave away too much in their Carroll package, but that’s the cost of competition. Even though it’s still the Cavaliers’ conference, the path through the East is as weak as ever, and the Raptors have faith in their DeMar DeRozan-Kyle Lowry-Serge Ibaka core. If they’re going to make a championship run, the time is now. It’s unlikely, though. However, the Raptors now have more flexibility to make it happen.

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