GM expects Calderon back

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

T.J. Ford made a point yesterday of wanting to start at the point.

The point Jose Calderon hammered home was that he wants to play for a winner, regardless if he starts or is asked to come off the bench.

Two established NBA point guards espousing two different schools of thought, in ways that mirror the differences in on-court styles between Ford and Calderon.

If anyone had any doubts as to whether the Raptors could keep both Ford and Calderon next season, they were all but eliminated when each emerged from year-end exit meetings to face the media in the wake of Toronto's opening-round playoff loss to the Orlando Magic.

Financially, it makes no sense to keep both around and now philosophically it makes absolutely no sense.

"See you guys next season,'' Ford said after his grilling by reporters, his sly smile all but revealing that his time in Toronto is all but over.

At the middle of this point guard quandary is Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo.

For what it's worth, Colangelo is going to allow the process to unfold, which in this case involves an opposing team to make an offer sheet for Calderon, who becomes a restricted free agent on July 1.

There will be plenty of suitors, beginning with the point guard-poor Miami Heat, who also could use Calderon's Spanish heritage to spread the basketball gospel throughout south Florida.

Colangelo understands and applauds Ford's desire to be No. 1, but at the same time Colangelo is going to do what's best for the Raptors.

"At the end of the day it's how can he and Jose co-exist,'' Colangelo said. "If, in fact, that's a possibility."

Colangelo then added some very telling words.

"It's a very safe assumption that Jose will be back in a Raptor uniform."

Calderon took himself out of the starting lineup after watching Ford struggle coming off the bench.

But in basketball, it's not who starts but who finishes and in each of Toronto's five post-season games against the Magic, it was Calderon directing the offence.

"I want to win," Calderon said. "I want to win a ring and a championship. I respect his (Ford's) opinions.

"I feel I'm Jose. I want to be on a winning team. I want to be with players who are at least on the same level as you, where you fight for minutes."

In the immediate future, there's nothing the Raptors can do, except talk to all parties involves and see if a common ground can be reached.

At this point, it seems an impossibility.

Even Colangelo admitted: "We've got a problem that needs to be resolved."

GARBO A NO-GO

As long as Jorge Garbajosa is under contract with the Raptors, the Spaniard will not be able to represent his country at the Olympics this summer. Colangelo made that abundantly clear, at the same time acknowledging the huge void Garbajosa left in the Raptors lineup as a result of a left leg injury which he originally suffered on March 26, 2007.


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