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One of the worst-kept secrets of the NBA’s annual March 1 playoff-eligibility waiver deadline looks set to become open reality. Barring a major turn of events, veteran point guard Jose Calderon will join the Golden State Warriors later this week to provide a known quantity at the end of the bench.
The biggest roadblock to the deal was completed on Monday when the Los Angeles Lakers agreed to a buyout with Calderon and promptly waived him ahead of Wednesday’s deadline. If Calderon clears waivers, he will be free to sign with any team.
All reporting up to this point has indicated that he will join the Warriors, and ESPN’s Marc Stein confirmed as much on Monday afternoon:
Veteran guard Jose Calderon is on course to sign with the Warriors on Wednesday provided he clears waivers that day, league sources say.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 27, 2017
CSN Bay Area’s Monte Poole wrote Saturday night that the Warriors would be ready to offer Calderon a contract once rules allowed it. Golden State declined to sign young point Briante Weber for the rest of the season following the completion of his second 10-day contract on Saturday, and the organization’s explanation of that move pointed toward Calderon as their guy:
“We think we have something in place, but it’s not finalized,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after a 112-95 victory over Brooklyn. […]
Though Warriors president/general manager Bob Myers stopped short of identifying Calderon by name, his insinuations late Saturday night line up with what was learned from league sources.
“You find that in the playoffs, experience matters,” Myers told CSNBayArea.com.
“I don’t want to diminish (Weber’s) contribution and say he’s not capable,” he added. “He could help a team. But I think sometimes you go with experience when going into the playoffs.”
The timeline of this decision appears to have mattered. The New York Knicks waived point guard Brandon Jennings on Monday, as well, and he rates as a more capable player than Calderon in terms of pure value. According to Chris Haynes of ESPN, some Warriors decision-makers liked him more:
Some key figures within Warriors' organization preferred Brandon Jennings, I'm told, but process was too far along with Jose Calderon.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) February 27, 2017
Regardless, Calderon is their guy. If and when he joins the Warriors, he will do so because the team’s staff feels more comfortable playing a 35-year-old vet a few minutes in the second or third quarter of a playoff game than they would with a largely unproven player like Weber. Calderon does only a few things well at his age — only hitting open jumpers and passing, really — and cannot be counted on to exert anything close to the defensive pressure of a spry, active type like Weber. For that matter, Jennings is more likely to put up a game-changing performance — say, a Leandro Barbosa-like 10 points in 10 minutes — to tilt an outcome.
But the Warriors will likely enter the playoffs as championship favorites and can afford to sacrifice the possibility of a game-shifting showing for day-to-day comfort and safety. For all he lacks at this point in his career, Calderon isn’t going to vary much from game to game. He’ll understand his role and be happy in it.
Now the Warriors just have to hope they’re not desperate enough to play Calderon for a few minutes in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Waiver-deadline signee Anderson Varejao was forced into that role in 2016, and we all know how that ended for Golden State.
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