Los Angeles • Moments before his coach named him the starter against the Clippers, DeMarre Carroll sat at his cramped corner locker at Staples Center and ate a concession-stand cheeseburger.
On a projector screen across the room, the final minutes played of Friday's 116-114 loss to the Clippers played. Carroll barely looked up. He already watched that game from the bench, earning his first Did Not Play-Coach's Decision in a month and a half.
Like most nights, he spent this quiet time wondering if he would play.
"I've been through this before," he said between bites. "Like I said, just trying to take advantage of my opportunity."
With Marvin Williams sidelined with inflammation in his right knee, Carroll started at small forward in the continuation of a season of fluctuating minutes. When Carroll talks about taking advantage of his opportunities, it's as a means to continuing his career.
"A lot of people don't realize I'm going to be a free agent in the summer," Carroll said. "I'm playing for 29 other teams, not only playing for the Jazz."
As the Jazz's dreadlocked lockdown defender, self-proclaimed "junkyard dog" and, if T-shirts count, fashion designer, Carroll has played as many as 23 minutes over a stretch of several games, but also been benched for six.
"It's part of being on the team," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "You get what you get; you don't get what you want all the time."
Marvin Williams said he has been hampered by knee plain since his first game back from concussion-like symptoms on Dec. 7 and that he has experienced swelling. He hopes to return to the lineup Wednesday against Minnesota
"It's just been nagging him," Corbin said "It hadn't gotten any better so he had a treatment the other night and it's a good chance to give him a few more days to get better."
Prior to Sunday, Carroll's minutes plummeted in three games without point guard Mo Williams, who did not travel to Los Angeles to continue treatment on his "severely sprained" right thumb. In the point guard's absence, Corbin has opted to play second-year wing Alec Burks, who he said provides more offensive punch and "puts pressure on the basket" as opposed to Carroll's supporting style of play.
"The concern now," Corbin said following the team's Sunday shootaround, before he knew Marvin Williams would not play, "is that DeMarre's given us great lift and now he's kind of out because you can't play everybody."
The strain that one battle for minutes puts on Corbin illuminates a greater issue for the Jazz depth. Corbin can't play any one player without adversely affecting the role of either a proven veteran or a rising former lottery pick.
While minutes have been at issue throughout the season, Carroll said he has been "buying into whatever coach does" and that Corbin has "been treating me good and really helping me be a better player."
"I try to just be a true professional," Carroll said, "because all of this being a good teammate, being a good locker room guy I also perform well on the court that takes on a toll on a team wanting you and a team not wanting you."