NBA Rumors: Would Dealing Jose Calderon Improve the Toronto Raptors?

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NBA Rumors: Would Dealing Jose Calderon Improve the Toronto Raptors?
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Where will Calderon find himself before the trade deadline?

Jose Calderon was theoretically on the block before this season even started. When the Toronto Raptors brought in Kyle Lowry this summer, they knew they were likely acquiring their starting point guard of the future.

Calderon, meanwhile, has been very good over his his seven year NBA career, but he's now 31 and slowing down. This year, he is seeing the lowest amount of minutes he has seen since his second year in the league, 2006-07.

Last year, Calderon played just under 34 minutes per game and posted 10.5 points per game while dishing out 8.8 assists per game. That still renders him one of the league's better point guards, but Lowry is now among the very best.

Calderon spoke with Mark Stein of ESPN about the distraction of being traded:

I think I'm going to be in the news a lot during the whole year [because of my expiring contract]... I've just got to be professional. That's what I've been doing for these [past] eight years. [By] now you're going to like my game or not, but that [trade] stuff I cannot control. I don't need to worry about what's going to happen. I don't know what's going on [in the] next few days or months or February [leading up to the Feb. 21 trade deadline]. I'm just trying to do my job. Whatever minutes the coach [gives] me, that's what I'm going to take and play my best.

Calderon has been doing all that has been asked of him, and is still effective.  However, Kyle Lowry was possibly the biggest snub for the Western Conference All-Star team last year.

He was snubbed mainly because he started struggling in the weeks leading up to the coaches selecting the reserves.

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Kyle Lowry is entering elite territory for point guards.

Through January 24th last season, he was averaging 16.5 points per game, 8.7 assists and 6.9 rebounds per game. For fantasy basketball fans, that ranked him ahead of Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings and Ricky Rubio.

Or, otherwise, everyone.

That performance cost the Raptors a top-3 protected lottery pick to acquire Lowry. Lowry is currently on a contract that pays him almost half as much as Calderon ($5.75 million, Lowry; $10.56 million, Calderon), and yet he is the undisputed starter.

The problem for the Raptors is finding someone to take Calderon and getting a player that they can use in return. Calderon is an expiring contract, but a hefty one, and teams in need of Calderon's services may be few.

Off-hand, the only reasonable destinations seem to be Chicago (as a stop-gap until Derrick Rose returns, and the Bulls push for a playoff spot), Indiana and Utah. Indiana would be upgrading from George Hill, while the Jazz would be receiving a huge upgrade over Mo Williams.

Teams that are out of contention for the playoffs would have no interest in Calderon, and teams that are in the playoffs have better starting point guards.

But Calderon brings very little to the Raptors currently. He's not quick enough to defend pick and rolls, doesn't rebound as well as Lowry, and his overall impact on both ends of the court just doesn't measure up to Lowry's. Not at this point in his career.

The Raptors would likely be happy to get another expiring deal and a late first round pick in exchange for his services. His value is nowhere near a player that receives 10-plus million per year, yet that is what his trade value is dictated to be. So while the Raptors unequivocally would like to move the Spanish floor general, there likely just won't be that many takers.

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