As far back as this season’s trade deadline, Kevin Pritchard has been rumored to be interested in obtaining Jose Calderon of the Toronto Raptors. This off season Calderon will become a restricted free agent. With the recent news of Darius Miles being cleared from waivers, the Blazers have some serious cap room for the 2009 off season. Many have speculated that with such a large cap space and a need for a premier point guard that the Blazers will make a serious run at 2009 free agents Chris Paul or Deron Williams. Recognizing these juxtapositions, Blazer fans must ask themselves: do we want Calderon now or a chance at Paul or Williams a little later?
This season has been a break out year for Jose Calderon. After TJ Ford went down with an injury 14 games into the season, Calderon got a chance to start for the Raptors and has made the most of it, averaging 11 points and 8 assists while leading the league with an amazing assist to turnover ratio of 13.00 (just for comparison the next closest player in the NBA is LeBron James with an assist to turnover ration of 8.00). Calderon has a reputation as a team player, locker room favorite and all around good guy in the community.
There is little doubt that both Paul (arguably one of the best players in the NBA) and Williams are more gifted PGs than Calderon. Williams and Paul are big names who would undoubtedly make the Blazers better if they joined the team. But getting either of them is by no means certain. Aside from having an up-and-coming team, what could the Blazers offer either Williams or Paul that they can’t get with their current or other teams? Deron Williams looks to be happy in Salt Lake playing for a team that figures to join the Blazers as one of the premier teams in the Western Conference for years to come. Paul seems to be a shoe-in to bolt New Orleans, but why would he want to come to Portland? Joining a team in a small NBA market is a death sentence for most players financially, resulting in them leaving millions on the table in potential endorsements. Moreover, with the NBA collective bargaining agreement, all teams interested in signing Paul will be offering him a max contract, thereby eliminating the chance that the Blazers could out spend other teams.
It is also reasonable to wonder if a player like Calderon may actually be a better fit in Portland. Both Williams and Paul are used to having the ball in their hands where they can make plays or set up the offense. They both have high scoring averages and are used to a steady diet of shots on the offensive end. The Blazers are looking for a point guard who can run the offense but is also willing to share duties with Brandon Roy who is also a skilled ball handler. The Blazers are likely looking for a point guard who can score but is willing to be the 4th or 5th option on the floor; simply put the Blazers are looking for a pass first, shoot second point guard. Both Williams and Paul are excellent passers, but would they be willing to see their scoring average drop to join the Blazers? Whereas Calderon is a wizard with the ball, almost turn over free and possesses a nice offensive repertoire which has only gotten stronger since joining the league. With a floor full of franchise players and future (or current) All-Stars, do the Blazers have room for one more?
Tell us what you think. Is Calderon the right choice for the Blazers or should they take a chance at getting the big time play of Williams or Paul? Or do the Blazers even have a chance of nabbing Williams or Paul? Post your comments and let us know.