New Orleans Hornets Could Be a Contender If They Snag Jose Calderon

Charles BennettSenior Analyst ISeptember 9, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 24:  Jose Calderon #8 of the Toronto Raptors runs the offense against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 24, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Raptors 102-101 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images


This article operates on two premises:

First off, Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Calderon is the most underrated player in the league.  Coming off a season where he was fourth in the NBA in assists per game and led in the league in assists-to-turnover ratio, Calderon looks to have lost his starting gig in Toronto to Kyle Lowry.

Calderon spent the offseason leading Spain to a silver medal in the Olympics.  He'll be 31 when the season starts, but Calderon clearly has a few seasons left in the tank.  Furthermore, he's in the top 25 all time in the NBA in assists per game.

The second premise is that the New Orleans Hornets look to add big numbers to their win column this season.  They get back a healthy Eric Gordon and add Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Robin Lopez.  

Some say they'll be back in the lottery after this season and not make the the playoffs until 2014 or 2015.  I say they could sneak into the Western Conference playoffs at No. 8 this season IF they fix a gaping hole in their offense by getting an accurate passer to take care of the point guard position.

Sorry, but you're not going to go very far with Greivis Vasquez.  Vasquez has started a grand total of 27 games at the point, and averaged a turnover every 11 minutes last season.  

While Austin Rivers may be the long-term solution at the position, he has no experience in the NBA, and in addition is arguably a combo guard rather than a point guard.

The solution?  Deal for Calderon, who I'm frankly surprised hasn't been dealt or cut already. So what kind of deal could the Hornets put together for Calderon?

Here are three pieces that I see as ripe for a Calderon trade:

  • Jason Smith: The seven-foot forward-center averaged nine points a game for the Hornets in 2012, but looks to be the odd man out with Davis, Anderson, Lopez and Lance Thomas all in the mix.
  • Xavier Henry: Likewise, the Hornets already have Gordon and Rivers to take care of the shooting-guard slot.
  • The Hornets first-round draft pick in 2013.  With Gordon, Davis, Anderson, Lopez, Rivers and Al-Farouq Aminu all 25 or under, I'm not seeing a compelling reason to add another young guy.

Bottom line, the Hornets need to put together a deal for Jose Calderon to make themselves contenders next season.