The Toronto Raptors' latest point guard controversy should be about ready to begin, perhaps as soon as their game against the New Orleans Hornets. Toronto fans have seen this movie so many times before. So has Jose Calderon, who has been playing like a man with something to prove, or maybe dollars to be made in a contract year?
Kyle Lowry, based on the time line the Raptors provided, should likely have been ready for the Raptors game with the San Antonio Spurs. But he was not in the lineup as the Spurs mauled the Raptors with a 100-80 beatdown in San Antonio, effectively ending the Raptors five-game win streak.
The two teams had played a double overtime thriller earlier in the year in Toronto.
You could say the Raptors may just have wanted to give Kyle a couple extra days to rest, and playing him in a game they are unlikely to win doesn’t make a lot of sense. After all, this is now the third time since the start of training camp the Raptors have been without his services.
Injury equals opportunity for Jose Calderon, and it really has been the story of his rise to prominence in Toronto. He would replace an injured T.J. Ford and cement himself in the starting position the following season. Ford would be traded to the Pacers in a deal that also saw Roy Hibbert as part of the package the Pacers landed for Jermaine O’Neal. The Raptors would re-sign Calderon to his current contract set to expire at the end of this season.
The Raptors couldn’t be as stupid as to make the same mistake a second time could they?
If you believe reports from respected NBA writer Sam Smith, they might be. He suggests in a column on Bulls.com that the Raptors are now shopping Kyle Lowry and plan to keep Calderon. This would be totally ridiculous if it turns out to be true, given the huge price of the lottery pick and the player, Gary Forbes, that the Raptors gave up to acquire Lowry from Houston.
Eric Bischoff, former head of the WCW wrestling organization, once wrote a book titled Controversy Creates Cash. In the wrestling business, this is no doubt true. In the NBA, however, controversy over playing time at a position seldom ends in a positive way. It truly never has for the Toronto Raptors, at least at their point guard position.
What Jose Calderon has done in fighting off contender after contender for his job should be commended. That said, along the way, it has also tarnished people's opinions of Calderon and the players he has battled against. In this case, Kyle Lowry might be the most demonstrative of all the players prior to him.
Lowry, in his own history, has been in a couple of these situations. Both times (Memphis and Houston), unlike Calderon, he came out with the short end of the stick. He was said to have not seen eye to eye with his last coach in Houston. Now Dwane Casey has given every indication that when Kyle returns, it will likely be from the bench.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this will not sit well with Kyle Lowry. That said, Casey has suggested as much now on several occasions, including after the loss to the Spurs, that Lowry likely, at least for now, will backup Calderon.
Unless we are missing a piece to this puzzle in which Lowry has indicated to the Raptors he has no intention of re-signing with them once his deal runs out at the end of next season, this makes little sense. There is nothing out there at this point that suggests this is the case.
If it isn’t that, this is just total insanity. How on earth can the Raptors bring in Lowry, calling him the future of the position, and hand him the starting job only to take it away three months later?
There was talk that when the team had a meeting after a loss on their 0-5 road trip out west, that both Bargnani and Lowry were subjects of concern for the team. The idea, that Lowry was trying to do too much and was being selfish with the basketball, was a theme expressed by a number of yet to be named players.
Jose Calderon is portrayed as this selfless individual who is the ultimate team player and may as well be the basketball version of Mother Teresa. Is that taking it too far? Perhaps, but for the people that do love him, he is considered, to steal a term from wrestling, the ultimate babyface (which for non-wrestling fans, simply means the good guy in a WWE wrestling match).
Kyle Lowry is almost certain to come off as the the heel or bad guy. It's what happened to T.J. Ford.
This is not a case of good guy versus bad guy; it's really about what is best for this basketball team and franchise. I'm not sure if a Spanish point guard in his 30s, lacking defensive skills but with wonderful playmaking ability is it. The Raptor themselves agreed back in the summertime.
Jose Calderon, while very talented in terms of numbers, has never guided this team to a playoff series win. In fact, he has not guided them to the playoffs in four, now soon to be five, years. It makes no sense at all to think Calderon can be the future at the position for this young Raptors squad. A five-game winning streak in which the best opponent record-wise was an 11-11 Dallas Mavericks team is not changing that.
Two triple-doubles in a career that had produced none in the seven seasons prior is not doing it either.
What the Raptors have at the moment is a situation that has every bit the look of something that will explode in their face.
If this wasn’t the fifth time we had been down this road—with this same player at the center of it all—it could be understood.
It is the fifth time, though, and if the Raptors actually decided to roll with Calderon and attempt to re-sign him while dealing away Kyle Lowry, they are completely and utterly insane.
After all, they say that insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result. Four times the Raptors have done this dance, and four times it has ended in failure.
Why on earth would any sane individual expect this time to be any different?