(www.interbasket.net) - With Toronto’s season ending in a 4-1 series loss to the Orlando Magic and restricted free-agency looming this summer, Jose Calderon recently spoke out on his blog about his expectations for next season.
After a season that saw the Spaniard assure the Raptors that it didn’t matter if he started the game or came off the bench, Calderon posted on his blog that he plans on being a starting PG next year: “What is clear is the fact that if I have to choose between a sports offer versus an economic offer, I will opt for the first.
I want to be a starter and to be in a team that aspires for everything. Of course, I will not be on a team in which I cannot be an important contributor nor if there is not a solid structure or if there are not options to be in the Playoffs.’ “
It was Jose Calderon’s best season in the NBA, statistically speaking. The 6-foot-3 point guard averaged 11.2 points, 8.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals in about 30 minutes a game.
Calderon has not only sacrificed his starting role for the betterment of the team, but he has also developed into one of the most efficient point guards in the league. He is shooting over 50 percent from the field, over 40 percent from three, and over 90 percent from the free throw line. By midseason, Calderon was garnering All-Star consideration.
But when T.J. Ford came back from injury that forced him to miss 24 games, the 5-foot-11 guard from Texas didn’t take to his reserve point guard role. In the games coming off the bench, Ford’s productivity dropped. “(T.J. Ford) turned toxic. He dominated the ball, shot too much, poisoned the waters.” wrote the National Post, a Toronto newspaper.
After a few games, Calderon approached Toronto coach Sam Mitchell in March and volunteered to come off the bench for the betterment of the team. Mitchell took Jose up on his offer.
When asked about the situation, Mitchell diplomatically answered “(T.J. Ford) has been better as a starter, and Jose has proven that he can come off the bench and give us something. To me, at least I know if T.J. struggles, I have Jose.”
Everyone knew that having two capable NBA point guards was a luxury that Toronto was not going to be able to enjoy for long. Toronto knew that this summer, they would have to address the point guard situation. Toronto’s GM recognizes this “At the end of the day it’s how can (TJ Ford) and Jose co-exist,” Bryan Colangelo said. “If, in fact, that’s a possibility.”
“Where I’m at right now in my NBA career,” T.J. Ford told the Post “I consider myself a starter and don’t see myself coming off the bench for 82 games.” While Calderon has taken a less strong point of view in the past “Whether I’m a starter or not, I want to win a championship. I’m ready to sacrifice for the team, for sure.”
So is it a possibility? With Ford’s attitude about starting and Calderon’s declaration today, it doesn’t seem likely.
Without Calderon’s compromise, things could have gotten ugly. Now with the season over, Jose feels free to air his feelings. What he is saying essentially is that he could do a better job for Toronto not only as a starter, but as Toronto’s primary ballhandler.
As of this post, it seems as if Calderon will be beginning games in Toronto for the 2008-09 NBA season. Not only are there rumors that the Raptors are trying to trade Ford, TJ’s overall performance in the 2008 NBA Playoffs was miserable.
For the Orlando series, the tandem’s main numbers were very similar; both put up between 11-12 points, 6-7 assists, 3-4 rebounds, all in 23-24 minutes, but the difference was in the details.
Calderon was simply more efficient than Ford in every category, and by a significant percentage; FG% (44% to 36.2%) 3pt% (47.6 to 12.5%), FT% (100% to 93.8%) and total turnovers (6 to 10).
The National Post recently released their final grades for all of the Toronto Raptors players. Calderon received the highest grade on the entire team with an overall grade of an A, Chris Bosh received a B+ and T.J. Ford received a C. (Italian F-C Andrea Bargnani received an overall grade of an F).
Here’s what they the Post had to say about Calderon: Toronto will re-sign him unless some team offers him the max, which won’t happen. He deserved the votes he got for most improved player, and should be the starting point guard next season.
Need another reason why Calderon will be back in a Toronto uniform next season? It came straight out of the Raptor’s GM’s mouth, “It’s a very safe assumption that Jose will be back in a Raptor uniform.” Unless some NBA team goes nuts and overpays Calderon, Jose will be back with the Raptors running the offense for 40+ minutes.
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