I've always liked Jose, even through the tough times in 2009, but I think now that he's the clear starting PG the last thing we should do is trade him. There are two reasons for this:
1) He's playing very well.
2) He's helping our younger players develop.
I'll start with the first one. Jose's defence has always been suspect, but to my eye he's certainly trying harder on the defensive end this year. Nevertheless, it's the offensive end that's his bread and butter, and he's doing extremely well since becoming the clear starting PG.
Arturo Galletti's got Calderon as 15th overall and 4th among PGs for offensive efficiency in the league this season. He's close to one standard deviation above the mean for all players (not just PGs). (Galletti's part of the Wages of Wins network, a group affiliated with the originators of the Wins Produced metric.) Galletti's offensive efficiency metric is still being refined -- the current version incorporates number of assisted field goals. Before taking this into account, Calderon actually topped the PG list.
Obviously Jose isn't the overall 4th best PG in the league since his defensive rating is below average, but on the offensive end of the floor you aren't going to trade up unless you somehow land Steve Nash, Chris Paul, or Tony Parker. Otherwise you're downgrading offensive efficiency for a defensive upgrade, and while that might be a good move on a different team, I think our young guys need a good distributor right now, which means we need an offensively efficient PG. And on that front there aren't too many guys in the league who are better than Jose.
There are a couple of reasons why I think Calderon is good for our young players. First, he's been with the team the longest and knows the playbook inside and out. Rajon Rondo joked recently that he knows the Celtics' playbook better than Doc Rivers, and I think Calderon could make a similar boast about the Raptors if he were the boasting type. Which leads to my second point, which is that he's got the right attitude for the job. He's a pass-first PG who's always looking to get his teammates going. Third, he knows how to get his teammates going -- he knows where they like to shoot from, so when he's looking to pass he knows what his best option is.
DeMar DeRozan mentioned it at a media scrum this week:
This is the main reason I'm against a lateral move that would deal Jose to a team like the Hawks and land us Bibby. Bibby might be a good PG, but he doesn't know the team or players and I would thing PG is one of the toughest positions to get thrown into midseason.“I love playing with Jose,” DeRozan said. “It’s showing every night. He gets everybody going. He knows where everybody likes the ball. He talks to me, Drea, whoever it may be before every possession, asks us where we like the ball. It definitely helps. Makes us comfortable.”
Finally, for what we're getting from him, I don't think his contract is bad. It looked bad last year when he was splitting minutes with Jarrett Jack and not playing all that well, but with his return to form I actually think the roughly $20M owed to him over the next two seasons is only moderately above his value when you compare it to what other PGs in the league are making.
Chris Paul: 4 years, $68M signed 2008
Steve Nash: 2 years, $22M signed 2009
Tony Parker: 4 years, $50M signed 2010
Deron Williams: 4 years, $70M signed 2008
Jason Kidd: 3 years, $25M signed 2009
Rajon Rondo: 5 years, $55M signed 2009
Chauncey Billups: 4 years, $46M signed 2007
Jameer Nelson: 5 years, $30M signed 2007
Jose Calderon: 4 years, $37.5M signed 2008
We're getting top-tier offensive production from Calderon for a little bit more than it's probably worth, but the contract is by no means egregious.
Keep Jose Calderon!