For now, the Raptors don’t have a point guard controversy. Jose Calderon is the starter and Kyle Lowry comes off the bench. We can debate which player should play what role, but for the most part, Dwane Casey rolls with the hot hand at the point down the stretch of games, and both Lowry and Calderon seem content enough when manning the bench.
Controversy avoided, for now, but that also means that with no clear definitive answer at the point, both Raptors point guards are going to be the subject of rampant trade rumours over the next three and a half weeks leading up to the February 21 deadline, and the speculation has already begun in earnest.
On Friday night, we had Ken Berger reporting that according to league sources, “the Raptors are far more amenable to trading Kyle Lowry” instead of Jose Calderon. On Saturday, Ryan Wolstat tweeted that “there is a split in (the) organization between Lowry and Calderon.” With Rajon Rondo’s season-ending injury discovered on Sunday and uncertainty surrounding the Celtics’ present and future, many seem to assume that Danny Ainge will likely pick up the phone and at least inquire about both Raptors point guards.
As I mentioned in Saturday’s pre-game Raps/Cavs thread (ugh…Kyrie), the Gasol/Bargnani trade Berger speculates about has been out there for a while, with the obvious twist being that Berger throws Lowry in whereas the early season Gasol rumours all paired Calderon with Bargnani (Sam Smith reported in December that Toronto might be leaning towards trading Lowry). Anything’s possible with Bryan Colangelo technically in a contract year, but I personally can’t see the Raptors giving up on Lowry and subsequently diminishing the role of their young bigs like Ed Davis for a year-and-a-half of an aging Gasol.
Then there’s Wolstat’s tweet, and to me, the most intriguing tidbit of all. Who is the organizational split over Calderon and Lowry between? Is it between management and the coaching staff? Colangelo and Ed Stefanski? Is ownership involved?
With respect to the Celtics, Calderon would provide a stabilizing veteran presence who can run an efficient offence on a large expiring contract, while Lowry’s defensive potential, low-risk contract and youth could help the Celtics this season and in the future if they really are considering blowing things up in Boston. My issue with the Celtics rumours is that Boston doesn’t exactly have a bevy of young players to entice the Raptors with, and before you all scream “Jeff Green,” I’ll remind you that including a player option in 2015-16, the 26-year-old forward is owed nearly $28 million over the next three seasons after this one.
Other than perhaps Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger, no one on that roster really jumps out at me as a valuable asset for the future. A first round pick from Boston, however, which very well could be lottery bound this season and beyond, could surely sweeten the pot.
Then there is the theory that a lot less people are talking about, and that’s the possibility that the Raptors trade Lowry and Calderon, or trade Lowry and still let Calderon walk as a free agent in the off-season, turning the tables and going in a completely different direction. While there aren’t any actual rumours or reports indicating this potential outcome, nothing would surprise me at this point with respect to this franchise’s point guard dilemma. Could the Raptors cut ties with both Lowry and Calderon and then make a run at a guy like Brandon Jennings, who will be a restricted free agent this summer? Obviously throwing Jennings’ name out there is just an example, but the point is that there are options out there outside of the two guys currently in the fold.
Suffice to say, while there might not be a point guard “controversy” brewing right now in the purest sense of the word, there is plenty of speculation and a whole assortment of possibilities as to how this latest chapter in Toronto’s never ending point guard saga might end.
Depending on how well or poorly the Raptors play between now and then, how far they are from the East’s eighth seed and how external forces such as Rondo’s injury play into things, you can probably expect the roller coaster ride of rumours and the carousel at the point to keep spinning for the next few weeks.