Is Calderon The Man or Auditioning?

The one thing I will say about Jose Calderon is he is at least a survivor. Some how, some way, he has been able to do that here in Toronto. After his rookie season it was pretty clear the Raptors did not have faith in him to be the man. How else could you explain the trade for T.J Ford that sent Charlie V packing to the Bucks. Ford was brought in to be that guy. Which he was for the most part until he was injured in Atlanta. That opened up the door to Jose Calderon. To his credit he performed well in the absence of Ford and took his game to another level. Perhaps the best play of Calderon's career came in that stretch. It also came in a contract year for him. So one way or the other Jose Calderon was going to get paid. When Ford would return he would feel he deserved his job back. Based on his play prior to his injury he felt justified. In the game he was injured Ford himself had perhaps one of the best nights in his NBA career.

It created a dynamic in which right or wrong Ford was painted as the bad guy. T.J was not shy about saying that he felt he deserved to be the starter and eventually he was put back in the starting role. Some would say at the suggestion of Jose Calderon. Jose has always been labelled as a team first guy and this was the ultimate action in him earning that label. T.J would not regain the form he had prior to his injury. In fact to this day T.J Ford has never really got back to being that guy. So while Ford would continue to profess that although he liked Jose and they got along that Ford saw himself as the starter. Jose kept tight lipped on the issue and would just go back to his role as the back-up.

The seed to all of this was planted before Ford's injury though. In Game 6, a must win for the Raptors, it was Ford sitting on the bench watching just like us see Calderon throw away the Raptors chance to extend the series to 7 games vs Nets. That was how the season would end with the supposed starter sitting on the bench watching his back-up cost the Raptors the series. Injuries played a role there as well. Not only Ford but Calderon both were injured in that series. The only other playoff series these 2 were a part of was the series vs Orlando. Heading into the series most experts were saying, the Raptors had the best two point guards in this series and that Nelson the Magic's point guard was a distant 3rd. By the end of that series with the exception of the lone game that the Raptors won in Toronto it was Nelson that had out played both.

All of these events took place under Sam Mitchell. It was Mitchell that made the choices on minutes and who was the starter and who wasn't. It seemed clear by the end that T.J and Sam's relationship had gone south. The Raptors would not have Mitchell in place when Ford would return in his first game after he was no longer a Raptor. Mitchell was fired just days prior to Ford's first meeting with his former team in Toronto. T.J would claim that his motivation was not the same coming back because things were different with the Raptors. In other words without saying it, his goal was not as much to stick it to Jose, as it was to stick to Mitchell. Why such hard feelings? No one really knows the exact answer to that. But when Mitchell once stated that Jose Calderon was the type of guy he would want his own daughter to date, that spoke volumes to his opinion and perhaps bias on the issue.

So what type of guy is Jose though? While Ford was direct and maybe all to honest about his desire to start Jose would stick to the do what is best for the team mantra. Calderon would leave Toronto after the season with his contract set to expire with that being his party line. However, in the first interview he did upon returning to Spain he would be singing a much different tune. That he felt that he deserved to be the starter. That he wanted to be the starter and this left the Raptors in a tough position. Ford was already being paid like a starter as the Raptors had extended his contract not long after acquiring him. If Jose thought he was a starter he would want to be paid like one as well. The Raptors needed to make a choice and they picked Jose. Signing him to his deal for slightly more then what Ford was earning. They then flipped Ford to the Pacers with Rasho and a pick that turned out to be Roy Hibbert. For Jermaine O'Neal and a pick that turned out to be Nathan Jawai. While Ford and Hibbert remain Pacers, Jawai is out of the league and J.O did not even last a season with the Raptors.

Jose since the trade has had numerous injuries and his play has never reached the level of where it was when Ford was out. It became so much of an issue it led to the Raptors signing Jarrett Jack who not only could challenge Jose but happened to be good friends with the star player in Bosh and his college team mate. Just like Jack had done in Indy to Ford, he would do the same to Calderon in Toronto. Jack had out played Ford to earn the starting role with the Pacers and then came to Toronto and did the same to Jose Calderon.

It seemed very clear that Jack was the guy the Raptors wanted to keep. Jack showed leadership and became a mentor to some of the Raptors young players. Something that Calderon, despite his team first attitude, has failed to do as Raptor in his entire career in my view. The Raptors tried unsuccessfully to trade Calderon to Charlotte. The Bobcats at the last minute backed out and it would appear that the Raptors could not find another place to move Jose. He didn't help matters with a terrible pre-season and a less then thrilling beginning to the season . The worm started to turn in the past few games and the dreaded point guard controversy was back in vogue. But before the blogs and talk radio could get the debate rolling Jack was packaged up and sent to New Orleans with Banks and Andersen. Jose once again survives and becomes the USPG. What does that mean? Undisputed Starting Point Guard. Some fans are already wondering how long before Bayless, acquired in the trade with New Orleans, will change that status for Jose. If he is any kind of Raptor, it will be sooner as opposed to later.

So what ultimately does this mean? Is Jose now the guy or is this just an audition for him to play his way out of Toronto? The Raptors have 2 draft picks and a boat load of cap space and with all of that you would think they could use some of it to get a quality point guard. I remember when Kenny Smith on TNT few years back referred to Calderon as nothing more than a good back-up in this league. Now I am not saying Kenny Smith is right about a lot of things. But on this one he may have hit the nail on the head.

Jose Calderon for whatever you may think of him good or bad this next point is fact. Since Calderon's arrival in the league the position he plays has evolved and not in his favour. The speed of point guards in this league has increased. Rajon Rondo, John Wall, Tyreke Evans Derrick Rose and a few other names you could add are all blessed with speed. Calderon's lack of defensive quickness, and is lack of ability to fight through screens makes him easy to expose for these guys. Just like the center position has evolved and the Shaq and D-12's of the world have become rare exceptions to the rule, the point guard position is changing too. A point guard with Jose's skill set on the defensive end of the floor is doomed to failure. He has never been a good defender and at his peak his offensive skill set allowed that to be over looked. But on a Raptor team that is trying to change it's image and become at least more of a two way team that can play on both ends it would appear Jose Calderon does not fit in that.

So the off-season and perhaps the play of Jerryd Bayless may determine what becomes of Jose Calderon. For the moment he is the Undisputed Starting Point Guard. It is a title he has earned perhaps by default. The fact that he himself was untradeable. In addition Jarrett Jack was not playing to the level, that could allow Bryan Colangelo to not follow through on his ultimate plan, of getting the Raptors a ton of cap space for the New CBA have made it so. So if your thoughts on Calderon are similar to that of mine, you need to see that this might just be short term pain for a long term gain. Jose Calderon is just not the long term answer at his position and the fact he is here and Jarrett Jack is not does not mean Jose is. It speaks more to the fact he has a contract that far exceeds his talent level and that the Raptors based on that could not move him. So as crazy as it sounds Calderon fans and his haters may want the same thing for different reasons. Jose Calderon to perform well. The haters because it can be an audition to get rid of him once and for all. For the fans of him a chance for him to establish himself and become the starting point guard going forward. But for those people I would not hold my breath waiting for that to happen. Jose at this point is what he is.

DNB Scavenger Hunt Clue 3- He is the only person responsible for the Video "Like A Bosh" to appear in the DNB.

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