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With DeMarre Carroll out indefinitely, burden falls on entire Raptors team

The Raptors' wings will need to step up in DeMarre Carroll's absence. 

Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Wednesday, has struggled to stay on the court since arriving in Toronto as a free agent this summer.

When he's been available though, Carroll has been one of the best two-way wing players in the league. He's averaged 11.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and a team-high 1.7 steals while taking on the opposing team's biggest offensive threat and playing through recurring knee issues. He's also given the Raptors newfound flexibility on defense, allowing for smaller, more versatile lineups to match up with small-ball opponents.

But Toronto will now have to find a way to replace Carroll, who is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery in New York City on Wednesday. Those responsibilities will be spread throughout the roster, with wings DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross likely taking on the lion's share of the burden. DeRozan, who learned of Carroll's decision to undergo surgery Tuesday, expects his nightly duties to switch drastically without one of the league's premier defenders on the court. 

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"It's hard to replace a guy like DeMarre and what he's capable of doing out there on the floor on both ends of the floor," DeRozan said. "It's definitely tough to replace that, but, at the same time, guys have to understand that with a key player down it's going to take multiple guys to step up and fill that role."

DeRozan leads the Raptors in scoring (22.9 points per game) and is currently second in assists (4.1 per game), so his test will come on the defensive end. Maintaining his torrid offensive output while also defending at a high level will be a challenge he hasn't had to face with Carroll arriving this year.

Ross, however, will likely be asked to do more on offense. But, as he pointed out, there are more voids to be filled in Carroll's absence. 

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"I think it's going to be that everybody has to do a little bit more, because he did a lot for us," Ross said, "Scoring, playing defense, rebounding, just bringing energy. So it's going to be a whole team-type thing to help make up for what he brings."

Early reports indicate that the climb back for Carroll could take 6–8 weeks, according to Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star. DeRozan said the Raptors are prepared to help Carroll navigate through the process.  

"It sucks when you lose one of your teammates to an injury like that," DeRozan said. "And it sucks to have to deal with injuries period, but it's our job to keep him positive so we're going to be with him every step of the way through his injury until he gets back."