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The larger issue of whether or not the Dallas Mavericks can add a star to try and reboot the franchise alongside Dirk Nowitzki is not the point here. What we’re trying to determine is whether or not Jose Calderon, who agreed to join the Mavericks on Friday night, is going to be a millstone near the end of his contract. Calderon agreed to a four-year, $28 million deal with Dallas, surprising many that thought that the respected point guard (who turns 32 just before the start of training camp) would be a one or two-year rental for whichever team signed him.
There’s a reason teams wanted to sign Jose. He is an expert creator who rarely makes mistakes, someone who for years acted as the ultimate teammate both on (averaging nine assists for every 36 minutes he plays over his eight-year career) and off (professionally dealing with a litany of would-be starting point men that the Raptors brought in to replace him) the court. And though Calderon won’t be banging his elbows on the top of the rim any time soon, athletes of his caliber with games like his tend to age well.
Mark Cuban knows this. In 2004, faced with competing with Phoenix to give a near-maximum deal to Steve Nash, he declined and instead used that cash to fill several other holes in his lineup. Nash was 30 at the time, and what many forget is that his first two years as a Maverick were plagued by several crippling back and heel injuries. Cuban’s move, though it blew up in his face, was the right decision at the time. Nash just defied the odds, as is his custom.
Jose Calderon is no Steve Nash, but he contributes a similar skill set that figures to stay in place for a while.
For this long, though? Should any team be paying Jose Calderon around $7 million in 2017? More importantly to me, was any team attempting to in a way that forced Dallas’ hand?
Cuban has the cash. And in basketball terms, the Mavericks have the salary cap freedom to make such moves, which may include researching and eventually signing oft-injured center Andrew Bynum.
On top of that, while he won’t win the assist title next season, Jose Calderon is exactly what the Mavericks need. The dalliance with Darren Collison, a one-time game-changer whose confidence seems to have left him, absolutely did not work. The team needs someone to execute Rick Carlisle’s offense, and not a scorer at the position. That’s not calling Collison (or the others that worked at the spot last season) selfish, just a bad fit.
Calderon fits. His low-risk, high-efficiency game won’t work for every team’s roster, but it should work for this one.
Will it be worth the price in 2016-17? That’s … that’s tough.
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