While the Memphis Grizzlies’ decision to trade Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors has gotten plenty of press, one of the most significant aspects of the deal has been severely overlooked: the acquisition of Jose Calderon by the Detroit Pistons.
They received him after sending Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to the Grizzlies and he will likely be a part of the team for the rest of the season. The big question here is whether or not Calderon will be with the Pistons for any time beyond that.
Calderon’s contract expires at the end of the season and there’s been loads of speculation about where he could end up. After all, Calderon would be a valuable asset on many teams. He’s a great passer and while he doesn’t take many shots, the ones he does take tend to go in. No one will mistake him for a superstar, but he’s a reliable pass-first point guard who is capable of scoring when he needs to.
Some think the Pistons will let him go because he is an older player, and doesn’t fit into their “youth movement,” but those people are missing a larger point: Calderon is exactly what the Pistons need; an excellent ball distributor.
This team has a ton of talent, but they’ve struggled at the point guard position this season. Starting point guard Brandon Knight is fun to watch, but he’s not very good in the assists department. He’s averaging a mere 4.3 dimes, one of the lowest averages for a starting point guard. Backup/sixth man Rodney Stuckey isn’t doing any better. He’s averaged 3.9 assists per game, while shooting a dreadful .382.
Frankly, with Calderon in town now, the odds that Stuckey will be out of Detroit soon are fairly high. He’s regressed considerably this season and his recent spat with coach Lawrence Frank suggests that he is not particularly happy with the situation. The most likely option is that we’ll see Calderon and Knight playing the point the rest of this season, while Stuckey lands elsewhere.
Calderon fits into this team because they desperately need a guard who can pass the ball. This is a team that thrives on the play of their talented young big men, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Monroe and Drummond have already proven themselves to be excellent playmakers, but imagine how much they’ll thrive with a guy like Calderon running the show. The potential for pick-and-roll dominance has to be enticing for a team that is currently 23rd in the league in scoring.
By the time this season is over, Calderon will have set up Drummond for countless alley-oops and the thought of having him stick around longer won’t seem absurd to anyone.
Let’s remember, Calderon is older, but he’s not that old. He’s currently 31 and this is his eighth year in the league. It’s not like the Pistons would have to worry about him being washed up for at least three or four seasons and he could be a solid player for a lot longer.
Much like Steve Nash, Calderon is a player who thrives on great shooting and intelligent decision making rather than pure athleticism. This means that he even after he loses a step, he could still be a very effective player. That’s why he shouldn’t have trouble fitting into this fairly young Pistons team; he could easily play well long enough to see the core group of players well into their primes.
Additionally, are the Pistons sure they want to keep playing Knight at the point? His skill set might be better suited to a shooting guard, since he is a shoot-first player, and it was obvious that he was a combo guard when he entered the league. A Calderon-Knight backcourt could be intriguing, as the passing mindset of Calderon and the great energy of Knight would likely compliment each other quite well.
Really, Calderon is just a good fit for this system, and should make a lot of Pistons players better. Maybe the Pistons let him go elsewhere, but it would surprise me. They need a quality point guard to lead them into the future, and Calderon fits into their situation beautifully. I would be stunned if he wasn’t part of the Pistons for the foreseeable future.
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