The DeMarre Carroll era in San Antonio is over.
With the 33-year-old forward languishing on the inactive list, the Spurs on Monday reached a buyout agreement that would allow Carroll to become an unrestricted free agent and sign with another team.
According to multiple reports, Carroll is expected to sign with Houston once he clears waivers.
Carroll appeared in only 15 games with the Spurs and had not played since logging a two-minute stint in a victory at Boston on Jan. 8.
He did not travel with the Spurs on the six-game portion of the rodeo trip that preceded the All-Star break, as the team unsuccessfully worked to move him in advance of the NBA trade deadline.
In agreeing to part ways with Carroll, the Spurs called it quits a bizarre partnership that never quite took hold.
Carroll agreed to a three-year deal last summer worth almost $21 million. He had originally consented to a two-year, $13 million offer but agreed to a restructuring to help clear cap room for the Spurs to also sign Marcus Morris.
When Morris reneged on a verbal agreement to come to San Antonio, the Spurs — who also dealt Davis Bertans to Washington to make the ill-fated transaction feasible — were on the hook for Carroll’s new contract.
Morris’ rug-pulling notwithstanding, the Spurs had pursued Carroll with the belief he could help them.
An 11-year NBA veteran, Carroll joined the Spurs amid hopes he would help shore up the team’s perimeter defense. He has long been regarded as one of the league’s more dogged defenders and was coming off a two-season tenure in Brooklyn in which he had averaged 12.3 points.
In an interview with the Express-News during last week’s NBA All-Star break, Carroll admitted his confusion with lack of playing time in San Antonio and said he thought he still had more left in his tank.
“I don’t know what went wrong, what happened,” Carroll said. “I felt like San Antonio was going to be a great place for me, for my talents, but it didn’t work out.”
Under the contract Carroll signed with the Spurs in July, he was due a guaranteed $8 million after this season.
It is a rare step for a team to buy out a player with that much guaranteed money remaining on his deal. Most buyout deals — like Pau Gasol’s last year with the Spurs — tend to happen in the final year of a player’s contract.
The Spurs will take a cap hit on Carroll’s buyout, though the exact amount will depend on a number of factors including how much he is paid by his new team.
Carroll’s departure frees up a roster spot for the Spurs, but it is not immediately clear if or how they will use it.
If Carroll is on to Houston, as appears to be the case, it will mark his ninth team. Carroll played in five games for the Rockets during the 2010-11 campaign.
For now, Carroll appears content to take the high road in closing what has been a short but strange chapter in San Antonio.
“Another opportunity will come for me,” Carroll said last week. “San Antonio, I don’t know … what the hiccup was. But at the end of the day, I am totally healthy. I work out every day, twice a day. When that opportunity comes, I will be ready to take advantage of it.”