Is Jose Calderon Too Valuable To Trade?
It’s no secret that Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo has tried to trade Jose Calderon several times over the past two seasons. Before the season started, Colangelo described Calderon and his $10.5 million expiring contract as a valuable trade asset. However, except for the long-dead deal squashed by Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, Colangelo has not been able to get value back for his point guard and make no mistake, Calderon is valuable to the Raptors.
The longest-tenured player on the team, Calderon is in his eighth season in Toronto and is just 53 games behind the retired Morris Peterson for the most games played in a Raptors uniform. Every time Calderon has faced a challenge from other point guards in Toronto, something has happened to prove this team needs his services. When new starting point guard Kyle Lowry went down with a bruised bone in his foot after just four games, Calderon stepped up and delivered once again.
“[Calderon] has been great,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. “With Kyle out, he is really the only true point guard we have on the roster. I can’t say enough about how much I respect his leadership. His heart and soul is in the right place for this organization.”
Calderon has slipped seamlessly back into the Raptors’ starting lineup, averaging a double-double in points and assists and averting what could have been a disaster without Lowry, who was dominating in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals to start the season. Calderon posted his first career triple-double to help the Raptors win their second game of the season last week and then posted 18 assists two games later to boost Toronto’s record to 3-7.
The rough start to the Raptors’ season actually turned as the team fell in triple overtime at home to the Utah Jazz to go 1-6 on the season. Calderon posted a double-double of 13 points and 11 assists during the three overtime periods, finishing with 20 points and 17 assists on the night. Once again, Calderon showed that he knew when to dial up his production.
“I think sometimes the point guard needs to score the ball and sometimes you don’t,” Calderon said. “I think what you need to do is try and find when it’s your time and when it’s not. I might have to be more aggressive or less, but that’s how I play all the time and that’s what I try to see from a point guard perspective.”
Without Calderon backing up Lowry, this Raptors team could easily be in a 1-9 hole, which psychologically, could’ve been too difficult to overcome. The veteran point guard has helped the Raptors overcome the early injury and some on-the-floor team chemistry issues as well. He has been playing extremely well and keeping the Raptors competitive until Lowry returns. However, Calderon understands that Lowry will be returning to the court very soon and this team-first professional willingly accepts any role that Casey assigns him.
“You just go out there in whatever minutes you got and try to do your thing,” Calderon said. “That’s the way I play, that’s the way I play all the time, that’s what I’m trying to do, just play basketball and be myself. Coach is the one you can ask about minutes, it’s always a changing situation. I just try to be professional every day and try to do my best every night so it doesn’t matter. I cannot control the rest. Hopefully, Lowry can get back as soon as possible.”
Over the past four lottery-bound seasons, the Raptors have watched helplessly as key injuries have impacted the roster and the team didn’t have sufficient depth to keep their season from imploding. While the injury to Lowry has undoubtedly hurt the Raptors, this season the team had a proven veteran who could step in to minimize the damage.
Is Calderon too valuable for Colangelo to trade? If the team really does have playoff aspirations, one could ask, where would the Raptors be now if Calderon wasn’t on the roster?