Calderon On the Block?

In ESPN writer Marc Stein’s latest “Weekend Dime” column, he references a Spanish newspaper interview where Jose Calderon says that he would “like to have the opportunity to compete for something” though in the same interview, Calderon reportedly states that he would not ask for a trade from Toronto because it’s not his personality.

Stein goes on to write that the while the Raptors might not be actively shopping Calderon, the team “have let it be known they’re willing to listen, since he’s no longer regarded as their long-term answer at the point.

Stein also raises the possibility of the Raptors releasing Calderon under the league’s new amnesty clause if they can’t get what they want in a potential trade, which would reportedly be another point guard in return.

The amnesty topic is interesting, because other potential amnesty targets for the Raptors could have been Linas Kleiza, if he couldn’t make a competent recovery from microfracture surgery, and possibly even Andrea Bargnani, if he didn’t show that he could fit with the team’s new defensive direction (though I highly doubt Colangelo would have ever amnestied his No. 1 overall pick).

With Kleiza looking at least decent, if not playing above expectations, and Bargnani looking like a potential All Star when healthy, some of the amnesty spotlight shifts back to Calderon. Having said that, with how well Jose has played for the most part this season (10.5 points, 8.4 assists, 4.67 Assist-to-turnover ratio), the Raptors should be able to get something of value in return, even if it’s not a fellow point guard.

If the Raps were to shop Calderon right now, what kind of value could the efficient point guard deliver in a trade?

The Lakers, Heat and Knicks are in obvious need of an upgrade at the position, but do any of those three teams have anything the Raptors would be willing to take back? Probably not. Guys like Metta World Peace and Derek Fisher don’t make sense (both have player options after this season), nearly every player of substance in Miami is locked into a long-term contract that wouldn’t benefit the Raptors’ rebuild, and in New York, I can’t see the Knicks parting with young pieces like Landry Fields or Iman Shumpert just to land Calderon, especially with their “saviour” Baron Davis on the way.

After those three high-profile teams, it’s hard to find contending teams in desperate need of point guard help. Two teams that did come to my mind were the Trail Blazers and Jazz. Raymond Felton has been disappointing in Portland, Calderon would provide an upgrade at the position for the Blazers and Felton’s expiring contract could be enticing for a Raptors team looking to clear as much cap space as possible for this summer.

As for the Jazz, there have been rumours swirling all season that Devin Harris, whose play has regressed over the last couple of years, could be dealt. Calderon’s and Harris’ salaries are almost identical, both contracts run through the 2012-2013 season and the Raptors would get a capable point guard who is a couple of years younger than Calderon. My problem with this potential deal would be that neither team would really be upgrading themselves or clearing cap space. It would be a deal for the sake of making a deal.

If I’m Bryan Colangelo, I obviously want to capitalize on Calderon’s current value before he either gets hurt or begins to wear down (Jose’s play has already begun to slow down over recent games), but I also don’t want to just give him away. As a fan, I would be fine with dealing Calderon for cap space and a draft pick, regardless of whether the Raptors get any tangible value for this season.

As it stands right now, with Calderon on the books and a couple of top-five picks expected to join the team next season (including Jonas Valanciunas), the Raptors would have nearly $50 million committed in salaries. But if they can find a way to unload Calderon for an expiring contract (like Felton’s), they could have as little as about $39 million committed.

I’ve grown to like Calderon overt the last couple of seasons, and think that when he’s truly on his game, he can be one of the 10 best point guards in the NBA. But when you’re a rebuilding team looking for youth and flexibility, moving a 30-year-old with value to create as much as $20 million in cap space seems to make a lot of sense.

Of course on the other hand, you could make the argument that Calderon will be of greater value next season, when he is playing on an expiring contract and the Raptors (hopefully) have a more defined future core in place.

The only thing that is certain is this: Despite how well Calderon has played and how great of an ambassador he has been, the chances that he is the Raptors’ point guard when they are ready to “compete for something” are slim to none.

Comments (11)

  1. If you want a bad raptors team to go to a horrific raptors team, then trade Calderon.

    • From above :

      “As a fan, I would be fine with dealing Calderon for cap space and a draft pick, regardless of whether the Raptors get any tangible value for this season.”

      Clearly the team is not winning anything this season, so if trading Calderon puts the team in a better position for the next few seasons, why not? I love Jose. He’s a great player, has high basketball IQ and he’s a great teammate, on and off the court. However, he’s 30 years old, he’s not the greatest defender (which will only get worse over the next couple of seasons) .. and, most importantly, probably won’t be around by the time this team starts winning.

  2. Name one better point guard that we have any hope of trading Calderon for?

    • Realistically, I can see guys like Mo Williams, Devin Harris, Kirk Hinrich, Rodney Stuckey being thrown out there in trade scenarios.

      But I don’t think it necessarily has to be a pg, why not take a guy like Kaman from New Orleans? Toronto needs a center, New Orleans could use an upgrade at pg, and Hornets already have Kaman on the block as well. Ya, it would leave the Raptors with only Bayless and Carter to play pg, but it seems like a good trade for both teams.

    • devin harris is a clear upgrade defensively and he is a athletic up tempo point guard that will help derozan

  3. Now they want to trade him after they passed up on Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker in the draft? They won’t get anything even close in talent level in return for Jose. They’re better off keeping him until next year since his expiring contract will have value to more teams.

    As much as I love Jose’s work ethic and offensive skills, I don’t think he was ever the right guy to build around as your starting point guard. He is more suited for a combo guard 6th man role, and I think he would really excel at that wherever he ends up.

  4. Yeah, it would be dumb to trade Calderon now unless they can get something of value in return, and a low draft pick isn’t enough value in my mind. Better to wait until next season when his value rises.

  5. Trade Jose Calderon plus cash to the Lakers for Lakers 2012 1st Round Draft Pick plus Steve Blake.

    Then use that pick (assuming Lakers land in the middle of the draft order) to draft Myck Kabongo.

  6. I’ve been a big fan of Calderon over the years but if you can find a team willing to give up a first rounder or a couple of young players or a combination of the two as part of a bigger package than I have no problem with it.

    It still makes me laugh that a 30-year old point guard is probably our 2nd best player and we are apparently rebuilding.

  7. It makes no sense to get rid of an important player in exchange of what? who is going to acept calderón whith the money he is earning

    the team is ALWAYS rebulding an signing new players like alabi jonson magloire bulter and those useless players. what do you want a new jullian wright or what?

    Keep for once the decent players!!!

  8. There’s one other plus for Calderon. Imagine who our other starting four might be next year. Likely Derozan, *draft pick, Bargnani and Valanciunas. Wouldn’t a vetran, stable point guard help that group develop rather than adding in a young point guard who is still finding his game?

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