Last week, the Toronto Raptors traded for former Houston Rockets guard Kyle Lowry, giving up a future lottery pick for a tough two-way guard that played excellent all-around basketball last season. In doing so, they effectively relegated Raps guard Jose Calderon to backup status, a role he might be best suited for even on a rebuilding team like Toronto. Calderon, who has started 271 out of a possible 339 games for the Raptors since 2007-08, is apparently unhappy with this demotion, and according to ESPN's Marc Stein he would welcome a trade.
And we would like to welcome other NBA teams to the re-installation of the knowledge that Calderon, though he has his faults, can really help your team. First, here's Stein's report:
Sources close to the situation say Calderon, while undeniably attached to the city of Toronto after spending his entire six-year NBA career there, is hoping the Raptors can find a trade home to release the Spaniard through the NBA's amnesty clause.
The Raptors, sources say, are open to a trade but want to send Calderon to a team with salary-cap space that can absorb the Spaniard's $10.6 million salary, thereby creating a trade exception for Toronto and giving them added financial flexibility for further moves.
Stein goes on to point out that the Dallas Mavericks might have interest in Calderon, but they won't give up all of their potential cap space before determining just how much money they'll have to spend on potentially luring Elton Brand and Luis Scola to Dallas after they clear amnesty waivers in what, for the 17th year in a row, has become The Most Annoying Offseason Ever.
Dallas has less need for a point man now that it has strangely acquired Darren Collison from Indiana in a trade of talents that the Pacers didn't actually have to make, and though Calderon is still probably the better player than Collison at this point, his $10.5 million salary is probably the sticking point.
And, yes, we said that Calderon is better. At worst? As good.
Unless he drops off next season Calderon will still be the low-turnover, high-assist point man he's always been. Jose shoots competently enough from long and mid-range, and though he's never gotten to the line much, he can be trusted to run the show in a pinch.
Is he terrible defensively? No, but he's not far off. Still, with Lowry around, Dwane Casey pitched to run his first full training camp and Jonas Valanciuas on his way over, the Raptors will be even more improved defensively after jumping from 30th in 2010-11 to 14th in defensive efficiency during Casey's first year.
Which is why Toronto, which I'm sure wants that trade exception but also values Calderon, probably won't push too hard with Calderon and his agent in their first few weeks after being told he's not wanted as a starter anymore. Let the guy vent, see how he feels in the fall, and have that potential trade chip (with Jose's $10.6 million expiring contract) to work with in the winter.
The fact that Jose Calderon is still pretty good helps that plan go down a heck of a lot easier.