Part 1: TJ vs. Calderon
Part 2: Jack vs. Calderon
Part 3: Lowry vs. Calderon
Alex Kennedy at HoopsWorld.com addresses the 'controversy':
Point Guard Controversy in Toronto?
When the Toronto Raptors traded for Kyle Lowry last month, Jose Calderon seemed to be the odd man out. However, the Raptors decided not to amnesty Calderon prior to the July 18 deadline and, two weeks later, they still haven’t traded the veteran point guard.
After talking to Raptors head coach Dwane Casey and general manager Bryan Colangelo recently in Las Vegas, it seems the team is prepared to enter the season with both Lowry and Calderon on the roster. They’ll compete for the starting job in training camp and while Casey insists the team doesn’t have a point guard controversy, this will be one of the more interesting position battles to watch in October.
“We don’t have a controversy,” Casey said of the competition between Lowry and Calderon. “To be a playoff team, you have to have multiple players at multiple positions. I know Jose. If he’s concerned about having someone else there to push him and having another point guard there to share time with him, I’d be shocked. He’s not a selfish player. We need multiple players at every position. We don’t have a ‘quarterback controversy.’ We’ll have a point guard out there and we’ll have a back-up. You need two quality point guards to make the playoffs.”
Colangelo, on the other hand, acknowledged a point guard controversy, but downplayed it and the effect it would have on the team.
“If you have two starting caliber players, there’s always going to be a controversy,” Colangelo said. “I guess what Dwane is saying is that the outside world makes more of it than we do internally. We’re going to let the two players come in and compete and ultimately it’ll be Coach’s decision who starts and who comes off of the bench. We could make arguments on both sides right now, on paper.”
Colangelo admitted that Calderon wasn’t thrilled when he found out that the Raptors had acquired Lowry from the Houston Rockets. Shortly after the Lowry deal was finalized, the Raptors began “working together” with Calderon and his agent Mark Bartelstein to find a trade for the point guard, according to reports. While Toronto hasn’t pulled the trigger on a deal yet, Colangelo didn’t rule out the possibility of a trade going forward.
“If a trade can be worked out, we’ll look at it,” Colangelo said. “That’s always the case. If there’s a trade that’s going to make our team better, we’re going to look at it.”
If a trade can’t be worked out, Calderon may have to enter the season as the Raptors’ sixth man. Lowry is expecting to be the starter in Toronto and he recently met with Casey during the Las Vegas Summer League to discuss the team’s playbook and personnel.
“If Jose were to come off of the bench, he would bring great experience and leadership to the young core of players that would be out there with him,” Colangelo said. “He has nice chemistry with Amir Johnson, especially on the high screen-and-rolls. We’ll see how it all plays out.”
The Raptors may enter the season with Lowry and Calderon on the roster and have them compete for the starting job in training camp. At the end of the day, Toronto has two talented point guards who have each proven that they can start in this league. That’s a good problem to have.
Tim Chisholm's take:
However, it's time for the Raptors to show Calderon some respect and invite him back to the organization with open arms this fall. As much as they are no doubt loathe to admit, they need him. They have precious few players who perform with his level of consistency and effectiveness, and with a second-unit replete with rookies and youngsters still trying to find their NBA footing, they need a guard like Calderon to steady their play and lead them while they're out on the court. The club has chosen to build a rotation with seven players that are 26-or-under, and if you are going to go THAT young and still hope to compete you need veterans that can play consistently productive minutes around them. Calderon not only brings consistent productivity but he brings familiarity with much of that playing rotation and has a relationship with his coach that is stronger than most anyone expected heading into last season.
As for Calderon, he'd do well to welcome a return to Toronto, as well. While he has the skills to be a starting guard in the NBA, there aren't many places where he would actually be one. He happens to be playing in one of the most point guard-rich eras in NBA history. Ten teams, or one-third of the league, can reasonably claim to have an All-Star caliber point guard starting for their club, while several others (like Philadelphia, Atlanta, Portland, Washington, Denver, Phoenix and Houston) can claim to have emerging young talents that they'd start over Calderon even if he was on their club. Maybe he could supplant Darren Collison in Dallas or Austin Rivers in New Orleans, but even then the best you can say is 'maybe'. Despite his skills, circumstances have all but dictated that Calderon is a reserve guard given the way today's NBA landscape is shaped. While that landscape is ever-shifting, for now he'd be wise to accept a reserve role with the Raptors, post his highly efficient numbers off of the bench, and hope to play his way into a contract extension with the only NBA club he's ever known.
The fact is that most of Calderon's (and his agent's) posturing right now revolves around the fact that they want to get him to a place where he can maximize his value in anticipation of free agency next summer. However, as Ramon Sessions, D.J. Augustin and Ray Felton discovered this summer, it's a buyers market when it comes to point guards of his caliber. Plus, next summer Calderon will be competing with Augustin, Jack, Devin Harris, Mo Williams, Beno Udrih and restricted free agents Collison, Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday and Stephen Curry for contracts. It doesn't really matter where Calderon plays this season, he's simply selling an asset that is in rich supply. He'll be a 32-year-old when the '13-'14 season starts and the days of him landing lucrative long-term money are over. Does he really believe that being a salary-cap-motivated rental is going to put him in a better place as a free agent next summer?
He offers real value to a club like Toronto. Watching him with play with Spain this summer is a testament to that. He's doing the sort of things that Toronto will need someone to be able to do if they are hoping to turn the corner as an organization, and rewarding players like Calderon - rather than spurning them - should be a organizational priority. Likewise for Calderon, proving his worth to Toronto is probably his best bet for a decent contract next summer. Play out the season, secure a modest two or three year deal next summer and maintain the status quo for a while longer. It may not be either side's idea of a perfect ending, but both need each other more than they want to admit.