The Toronto Raptors, barring a trade from out of left field, will start the season with Jose Calderon as the back up to Kyle Lowry. In a perfect world, it is an excellent combination. Calderon has been part of many combinations at point guard in his lengthy career with the Raptors. The list includes T.J. Ford, Jarrett Jack and Jerryd Bayless. All ending ultimately in failure.
There is an expression in football that, if you have two good quarterbacks, then you really have none. You ideally want a clear starter and clear back up. If you have two guys that are fairly equal in skill, with both feeling they can make a claim to be the starter, you really have nothing.
Actually, what you have is a self-made controversy. Just check the New York Jets quarterback situation as an example of that. It is an avoidable situation, if handled correctly.
If Calderon had been able to prove himself as a starter, there would not have been a problem. The fact is, he really hasn't been able to do that. Ford and Jack actually pushed Calderon; pressure in this case did not create diamonds.
Calderon would crumble at times, creating a legitimate debate on who the starter should be. Another football expression is "the back-up quarterback is always the most popular guy on the team."
Jose started as that guy. No one can deny he really played well in replacing an injured Ford—the Raptors would not have made the playoffs without him in the second year he was paired with T.J. Ford. The problem is that was the first of a series of moments where the Raptors were forced to choose. Each time they have chosen
Calderon. Considering the Raptors lack of performance since that last playoff appearance, a portion of that blame has to fall at the feet of Jose Calderon. The Raptors have finally decided to move forward. This was made clear by their actions this off-season. They had their much-talked about pursuit of Steve Nash. When that failed, they quickly moved to their plan B to acquire Kyle Lowry.
In their actions, the Raptors have said that the Calderon Era is over.
In life, when you tell someone it is over, you tend to not to invite them out to dinner the next day. Jose Calderon still being around is like asking the girl you just told to go away out for dinner and movie. I am not here to act as a relationship counselor, but most feel that a clean break-up is the best for everyone in a relationship.
The Raptors need to do that for them to truly move forward with Kyle Lowry.
It is not that Raptors don't know that. Jose Calderon has been on the market off and on since the failed trade with Charlotte in 2010. There is interest in Calderon, just not in paying him. There were a number of teams lining up to claim Calderon if the Raptors had decided to use the amnesty clause on him.
What has scared teams off in the past is his overvalued contract of over $10 million in this last season of his deal. This now becomes an asset for some teams to give Calderon an audition. If it doesn't work out for a franchise, they have given themselves 10 million dollars in cap room for the next off-season.
What is Calderon's Future?
The Raptors need to make a bold statement to Kyle Lowry that "you are the guy we want." Lowry only has two years left on his contract. In that time, the Raptors need to convince him Toronto is the right place for him to call home. If they fail to do so, they have basically handed a lottery pick to the Houston Rockets.
Calderon being around all season will only be a distraction to moving forward, with Lowry running the show. The Raptors did sign John Lucas III and thus have a back-up who is a solid player, but never going to legitimately challenge to start.
Jose is not happy, that has been made public knowledge by the Raptors G.M Bryan Colangelo. He stated this in a media conference over the phone that I was present for. If you're the Raptors, Calderon, a Raptor fan or a Calderon fan, the answer should all be the same on what needs to happen here. Jose may very well stay the nice guy and team guy he has always been.
It doesn't matter though, because his presence is just delaying the inevitable reality that his time with Toronto is coming to an end.