On Jose Trades and Roster Utilization

Following up on Jose.

Without any recent games to talk about, and with Sam (and Arsenalist) having touched on potential Jose Calderon trades, my options weren’t expansive in selecting an article topic for today. Rather than half-heartedly stretch a single topic over 1000 words, I thought I’d hit two different topics in shorter form.

Jose Calderon – Trade Bait
Jose has been playing great this season, and I’m not at all surprised. With a longer offseason to recover from nagging injuries and work himself into shape, he’s turned what was an inconsistent offensive game into a high-level point guard game. He’s always passed well, yes, but he’s supplementing his creativity with a knack for scoring now, buoyed by more than just a strong free throw percentage as in years past. In a word, Calderon’s offense has been sublime.

11 points, 3.5 rebounds, 9 assists, and less than two turnovers with 47/37/89 shooting marks. That’s what we, or inquiring teams, can expect on a nightly basis right now. And it’s impressive.

But does it mean he’s increased his trade value a significant degree?

Maybe not. His offense is clearly on point right now, and there are a few would-be contenders who could really use some help at the position (Lakers, Magic), but the trade scenarios Sam laid out are wholly unrealistic. His game has been tight, but not to the level we should expect a bounty of a Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, or Evan Turner in return (no offense Sam).

I love Jose, and I don’t want him to go. I think he’d be just fine running the team another year and helping transition to a new PG of the future. I understand people think his “value is high” but if all he’ll return is a C-level prospect (Darius Morris?) and some end-of-the-round Firsts (the Lakers have a pair), then I’d rather roll with Jose a while longer. This isn’t a draft class where we’d be grabbing a franchise PG in the top-10, either, it seems.

As for what we could expect as a return, well, consider the following:

So while Jose has been great offensively, some teams may look at these +/- numbers and see someone who takes too much off the table defensively. This may work for a team with a large lane presence like the Lakers and Magic, but it will diminish his value greatly to teams that aren’t as lucky.

Again, I don’t want to trade Jose unless his value is much higher than I’m anticipating, so maybe I’m subconsciously devaluing his contributions so I can justify low offers and therefore justify keeping him, but I doubt my subconscious is that clever.

The Raptors BAD Player Usage
I touched on this briefly in my last post-game coverage, a game in which Rasual Butler and Anthony Carter combined for 49 minutes of play, which is utterly ridiculous for a rebuilding team (or a contending team, or a Junior Varsity high school team, etc). Hollinger had recently introduced his BAD concept, which is basically a weighted impact of minutes teams hand out to players with a PER south of 12, an arbitrary cut-off point of mediocrity. The playing time of Butler (consistently) and Carter (in Bayless’ absence) made me dig for the Raptors BAD score.

As you can see, the Raptors don’t generally employ the optimal usage of their resources (at least offensively, as PER doesn’t capture anything but offense). The likes of Butler’s Corpse and Jamaal Magloire’s old ass have been the worst culprits, combining for over 700 minutes at production levels I could probably manage by just hiding in the corner and occasionally having a loose rebound roll to my feet. This is inexcusable. For a rebuilding team to be committing such a significant amount of playing time to aging players who don’t offer much in terms of production is silly. I understand Butler is not a complete pylon defensively, and that Magloire brings a toughness our other bigs lack, and there’s a place for one of them in the rotation, at the end (and by “one of them” I mean Magloire, because Butler should quit basketball).

There’s a trade-off here though. Every minute commited to a veteran is one that can’t be committed to a young player. Furthermore, every roster spot committed to a veteran is one that can’t be committed to a young player. No, we won’t find a Jeremy Lin by cutting bait on Butler and Carter, but we might find an Azubuike, Williams, Alston, Green, etc by giving someone who was overlooked a chance.

The gist of my point is this: where is the value in committing resources to a known mediocrity? Or rather, why is guaranteed mediocrity more valuable than potential success with potential failure?

You’re telling me that our third point guard duties couldn’t be safely handed over to D-League studs like Will Conroy or JamesOn Curry? Or that Magloire’s 6 fouls couldn’t be doled out by a D-League board-beast like Marcus Lewis? Or that all-around D-League star Justin Dentmon couldn’t handle a few minutes per game in the rotation? These guys, and others like them, may never be All-Stars or even starters, but if there’s even a chance they can be contributing role players, aren’t they deserving of a shot? And more so, doesn’t a franchise with a poor history of attracting and retaining marquee talent need an edict of finding upgrades at the margins to improve its chances?

Again, there’s room on a rebuilding team for some veteran presence, but in my mind right now there are four roster spots (Carter, Butler, Magloire, Alabi) and nearly 1000 minutes of playing time that have been used on players who will have no impact on the franchise’s success in the short- or long-term future (that is, no on-floor value, potential, or trade-bait-ness).

The Second Half
It’s going to be long, and the draft isn’t until June (not to mention, the quality of the draft class seems to be downgraded on a weekly basis lately). Let’s try to survive it and enjoy what we can…and let’s all pray together that if I re-run these numbers in April, DeMar won’t be on the sub-12 PER list. Yikes.

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