I am usually on the fence when it comes to trades involving Jose Calderon, however this season—and at this point in the Raptors’ rebuild—I am convinced that the best move for the Raptors—both at present and for the future—is to hold on to Jose. Here's why...
We don’t need Cap room:
As far as this summer's free agency goes, don’t expect the Raptors to make a big splash. There are some pieces they may look at — and can afford to — but don't expect them to take on a big contract.
The Raptors are not in position where they need to free up a bunch of cap room in order to make a major acquisition this summer, so trading Jose in order to save money makes no sense for the Raptors, not now and not for the future.
Yes, Jose Calderon will have a pretty big price tag next year, $10,561,985 to be exact http://hoopshype.com/salaries/toronto.htm but we have been paying at or around that amount for the past few years, so to doing it for one more really does not hurt the team very much.
The Raptors' brass should let his contract expire, then hope Calderon rewards their loyalty by resigning for… say half the price. If next year he is no longer starter material (which barring injury should not be the case) or if a replacement has been found, then Calderon can continue being a leader and mentor from the backup position. Raptor fans could rest easy at least knowing they were no longer paying starter money for a backup PG.
The influx of young talent
Last but not least, keep in mind that there will be quite the influx of young talent come next season; as the Raps are poised to add Jonas Valanciunas —last year’s lottery pick— as well as a lottery pick and an early second round pick from this year’s draft.
Assuming he does not pull a Ricky Rubio, JV will be our starting center next season. His size, rebounding, and defense, should complement Bargnani quite well. Bargnani should be healthy once again and will finally have the opportunity to play a full season as the starting PF. Considering how well Bargs was playing this season, before he was bit by the injury bug, this has the makings of a much improved front court.
Unlike last year, the Raptors will have both a high lottery pick and an early second round pick in this year’s draft. Assuming Colangelo does the obvious, we will land our Small Forward of the future with the lottery pick —be it Harrison Barnes or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist— and then use the 35th overall pick to add another young prospect.
The Potential 2012-2013, 12-Man Roster and why we need Jose
PG: Jose Calderon, Jerryd Bayless
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Leandro Barbosa (re-signs)
SF: (Barnes or Kidd-Gilchrist), James Johnson, Linas Kleiza
PF: Andrea Bargnani, Ed Davis,
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Amir Johnson
+ the 35th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft (ideally a center).
As you look over this potential12-man roster for next season you will notice a couple things. First, the fact that it is/it has the potential to be much improved over what we are fielding right now. But more importantly you will notice that there are a lot of youngsters in the starting lineup. If the Raptors do intend to have two rookies as starters —Valanciunas and Barnes or Kidd-Gilchrist— they will absolutely need a veteran PG who can lead this team. Although DeMar DeRozan will be entering his fourth NBA season, he will still only be 23 years old and will need someone like Jose to keep him on track. Finally, although he is more experienced, Bargnani also needs a veteran leader like Jose Calderon to keep him on track, by getting him involved in the offense with quality looks —especially in the post— rather than just being a jump shooter.
In regards to this article's title, I have come to the realization that Jose Calderon is in fact our point guard of the present and if he can stay healthy and maintain his current level of play, he should be our starter for the next three to four years. That gives ample time for Bayless to continue to prove himself and for Colangelo to keep an eye on available young point guards who could come in and take over for Jose when that time is up.