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If Calderon Goes, Raptors Could Be in Trouble

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Finding a dance partner such as the Miami Heat for Jose Calderon, looks like a difficult task for Bryan Colangelo.
Finding a dance partner such as the Miami Heat for Jose Calderon, looks like a difficult task for Bryan Colangelo.

The HQ looks at not only the impact of potentially losing Jose Calderon in the coming months, but also what that again says about the man in charge of the Dinos.

As my fellow HQer Defensive Stance posted late last night,'s Marc Stein is reporting that the Toronto Raptors are in talks regarding point guard Jose Calderon, specifically, about trading the long-time Dino to another team. Yes, it's a completely shocking piece of news considering the team recently brought in former Houston Rocket Kyle Lowry to be their point guard of the future.

No one saw this coming right?

Apparently the Dinos are in talks with the Dallas Mavericks about Jose, but those talks have been put on hold until the Mavs figure out how much loot they need to chase recent amnesty victims like Elton Brand and Luis Scola. And say nothing of their recent acquisition of point guard Darren Collison.

Outside of the Dallas situation, anyone slightly concerned about moving Jose, period?

We're talking about arguably the best player on the team last year, someone responsible for nearly eight of the teams' lowly 23 wins based on the "Wins Produced" metric, and someone who stacked up pretty well against Toronto's other "non-Steve Nash options" when we did a recent analysis on the topic.

With Calderon, the Raptors would have one of the best one-two point guard punches in the league, suddenly giving them a position of strength to play from. Regardless of who started, the duo provide a nice ebb and flow of skills that would be ideal for both the current NBA system, and for the development of many of the club's youngsters.

But did any of us really think this would occur? I mean, how much patience does Jose have after Bryan Colangelo's endless lust for other point guard options, from TJ Ford to Jarrett Jack to the failed pursuit of Steve Nash and now Mr. Lowry. So it's really no surprise that Calderon wants out.

And now I'm not really sure what options the Raptors have.

For one, most of the club's dance partners have dried up. If Jose wants to start somewhere there aren't a lot of obvious choices. Maybe Miami, Charlotte, Houston, New Orleans, Sacramento and Portland? But of those, Miami, Charlotte, Houston and Portland probably don't make sense for a variety of reasons (both financial and personnel-wise) so that leaves Sacramento and New Orleans. Colangelo is apparently looking to move Calderon to a team with cap room thereby creating a trade exception but again, that's hardly an expansive list. On top of this, with Jose in a contract year, you'd think his agent will play hardball to ensure Calderon if moved, goes to a team that will provide him the best chance of posting solid numbers as Calderon's next contract could be his last in the NBA.

The fear then is that Colangelo's hand is forced and he moves Jose for little of current value, a move we've seen unfortunately in the past.

And to me, this is the even bigger point to this whole Jose affair, one that extends beyond the outlook of next year's club sans-Jose.

Why didn't Bryan Colangelo plan for this situation in advance?

Many of our readers noted this yesterday and it's true, BC always seems to rush into things head-first without considering all of the potential outcomes. Jermaine O'Neal, Hedo Turkoglu, even the Nash situation; all have an underlying tone of "unpreparedness" that is almost mind-boggling. By grabbing any point guard on the market this summer you were running a huge risk with Calderon so why not have a plan B? One would have thought said plan included Jerryd Bayless but he was let go without any fanfare. (And as a reminder, Bayless was obtained in the trade that sent Jarrett Jack to N.O. as another of Colangelo's point guard upgrade attempts was flushed down the toilet.)

In Colangelo's defense, Bayless' stats as a back-up were hardly encouraging and starting Bayless over Calderon would likely have resulted in the same situation as the one BC currently finds himself in. And who knows, maybe Bryan has been working the phones like mad and just hasn't been able to find a suitor for Jose?

But that doesn't mean this whole thing has been thought through completely, and it brings me back to a point I made during all the Steve Nash drama; wasn't keeping Jose and looking to upgrade other positions a better play since day one? Jose isn't Chris Paul, but he's at least a middle of the league PG, something partially reflected by the club's 16.2 PER at that position last year. Yes, the position's PER differential was still negative overall, but frankly all of the positions were (I'm not counting the PF spot's 0.0 differential as a win) and looking further into the numbers the PG spot for the Raptors was one that didn't get crushed every night. (Compare that to SF and C.)

Now the team faces the prospect of being in the same boat as they were last year, with maybe a slightly more productive option at the 1, and the same issues at the SF and C spots, barring a huge rebound in production from Fields and an immediate impact by Jonas Valanciunas.

That's not a great situation for a team that BC obviously views as being prepared for a playoff push.

It's a bit like a baseball team being at bat down two, swinging for a home run with two outs and the bases loaded, in the bottom of the ninth, even though the opposing pitcher tends to give up easy singles.

The home run blows the game wide open, but the single is the safer and more importantly, statistically plausible outcome, one that keeps the club advancing in the inning.

I know Colangelo likes the long ball but I'd argue his biggest successes have been in the singles he's hit, whether it was Hump for Hoffa or Reggie for Kapono.

I'd love to see him stick to this plan here but unfortunately, with Bayless gone and Lowry already on the roster, he may be left with no other choice but to swing for the fences.