The writing was on the wall when Bryan Colangelo traded a first-round pick (and Gary Forbes) for point guard Kyle Lowry. Jose Calderon’s days as the starter in Toronto were finished. Both Colangelo and Calderon hinted that a trade would be ideal for both parties. Coming off a seven-game stretch as the starter earlier this season where he twice posted 15+ assists, there may never be a better time to trade Calderon.

Dwane Casey has experimented with a two-point-guard lineup, and it hasn’t worked. Kyle Lowry and Calderon both need the ball in their hands to be effective and more to the point, Jose’s atrocious defence makes it difficult to leave him on the court in crunch time. Looking at the big picture – it doesn’t make sense to carry a $10 million veteran backup point guard on a 4-13 team that is building for the future.

Before looking at what kind of return the Raptors could get in a Calderon deal, let’s examine the asset they have…

Offence

There are two skills that Jose has worked tirelessly to improve. He came into the league with a broken jump shot (16% from three as a rookie) but he’s improved that to become one of the most efficient jump-shooters in the league (46% from three this year).

Early in his career, Calderon had an inflated assist-to-turnover ratio based on making extremely safe passes around the perimeter. He now makes higher risk/reward passes and still manages to keep his turnovers down. Calderon deserves credit for developing this aspect of his game without having the team suffer from his learning curve. Here we see his progression as a passer:

Calderon Assists

For Layups / Dunks

For Jump Shots

Assists/game (NBA rank)

Turnovers/game

2012-13

3.4

4.4

7.8 (7th)

2.1

2011-12

3.5

5.3

8.8 (4th)

2.0

2008-09

2.7

6.1

8.8 (4th)

2.1

2007-08

2.4

5.8

8.2 (5th)

1.5

Calderon’s primary weakness on offence is his inability to beat defenders off-the-dribble without the use of a screen. He doesn’t have a quick enough first step or a convincing enough crossover to get past his man. Using a pick-and-roll, it takes him at least five seconds to initiate any sort of offence. If the shot clock is winding down, most teams rely on their point guard to create quickly. Toronto can’t do that with Jose at the point.

Defence

We see it every single night – he’s a turnstile. He’s a traffic conductor. He’s a sieve. For every bucket he creates on offence, he gives at least one back at the other end.

The most incomprehensible aspect of his defence is how often he drifts into a help position. When you are the worst perimeter defender on the floor, there are very few circumstances in which you should be helping. The number of times Jose has been caught standing in “no-man’s land” between a help position and his check is beyond countless.

Although his defensive principles have improved slightly under Dwane Casey, the 31-year old Calderon still doesn’t possess the necessary foot speed to defend guards in this league and it places extreme stress on a defence if they can’t defend the initial point of attack. Young frontcourt players have a hard time staying out of foul trouble when the opposing point guard is constantly in the paint.

To put his defence into context, let’s watch as Jose becomes the only player in NBA history to have his ankles broken by a simple jab-step:

From a Toronto perspective, there are two things they must accomplish in a Calderon trade. Primarily, they should be looking for a quality prospect to be part of this core moving forward. They will also need a backup point guard to run the second unit in the short term. John Lucas III doesn’t have enough size to defend and his shoot-first tendencies aren’t ideal for the leader of a second unit. One player can satisfy both of Toronto’s objectives, but that is unlikely since teams probably won’t give up a talented, young backup point guard to take on the expiring contract of a defensively inept, veteran point guard.

Looking at teams that could conceivably view Jose as an upgrade at the point, I’ve come up with three model trades.

Utah trades Enes Kanter & Mo Williams to Toronto for Jose Calderon & Ed Davis.

Sacramento trades Isaiah Thomas, Travis Outlaw & Francisco Garcia to Toronto for Jose Calderon & Ed Davis.

Chicago trades Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, Marco Belinelli & Marquis Teague to Toronto for Jose Calderon, Alan Anderson & Andrea Bargnani.

The Raptors aren’t going to make a deep playoff run this season, so if they can get pieces for the future, there is no reason not to move the longest tenured member of the team.