The Calderon conundrum

Toronto Raptors' Jose Calderon battles for the ball with Philadelphia 76ers' Jrue Holiday during a...

Toronto Raptors' Jose Calderon battles for the ball with Philadelphia 76ers' Jrue Holiday during a recent game at the ACC. (REUTERS)

Frank Zicarelli, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:45 PM ET

As the end draws nearer and as the evaluation comes to its conclusion, the point hasn’t been lost on Dwane Casey.

Eventually, Casey and the team’s upper brass will have to sit down and take a hard, long look at the Raptors’ situation at point guard.

To hear Casey tell it, no decision will be made in the immediate future, but with the team closing out its abbreviated schedule next Thursday, the time will soon arrive to at least inspect the all-important point position.

“The day after the season,’’ Casey said. “We’ll spend the month of May and June going over names. Bryan and Ed have already been going over names.”

GM Bryan Colangelo and assistant Ed Stefanski will ultimately make the play to either go after a point guard in free agency or acquire a point guard via a trade.

So fluid is the Raptors’ roster for next season that virtually anything is possible, save for the team dealing away Jonas Valanciunas, last year’s fifth overall pick.

It’s hard to see the Raptors peddling Jose Calderon, but with so much that needs addressing an expiring contract involving a legitimate point guard may entice suitors to offer a package Toronto simply cannot turn down.

In Calderon, the Raptors have both a trade asset and a piece that could easily be used as part of next year’s rotation.

No player has been as consistent than Calderon, no player more a leader and perhaps no player more of a revelation that this veteran Spaniard, who has taken more grief during his time in Toronto than he’s taken shots from the field.

“Jose is a big part of what we do,’’ Casey said of his floor general. “He’s a leader and has a great knowledge of the game.

“Is he the quickest point guard in the NBA? No. As far as intelligence, basketball I.Q., ability to shoot the ball, ability to run the pick and roll, he’s one of the best in our league.”

Casey believes 75 to 80% of offensive sets that get run down the stretch of games in today’s NBA feature the most basic of plays, the pick and roll.

The guy with the ball in his hands, the guy who initiates the offence, is the point guard.

When defenders go under screens, the point guard is asked to make shots.

When they go over screens, the point guard has to make the right play by getting the ball to the right guy at the proper spot.

It all sounds easy and pretty basic, but it’s not, an art that is only appreciated when a game has to be won and play needs to be made.

With the Raptors lacking players capable of creating their own shots, the need to execute in late-game situations becomes even more acute.

Jerryd Bayless, to borrow one of those cliches, is what he is, which is to say he’s a scoring guard who can occasionally run an offence, but is not wired to be a incumbent point guard.

Whether Bayless has played his final game as a Raptor, only time will tell.

With four games left, beginning with Wednesday night’s tip in Miami, Ben Uzoh and Gary Forbes will shoulder much of the burden at the point with Calderon, who continues to nurse a cut above his eye, waiting in the wing, only to be used in an emergency.

“We’re not shutting (Calderon) down,’’ Casey said prior to Monday’s tip versus the visiting Atlanta Hawks. “He’s just going to be a 911.”

But with nothing to gain, the Raptors will continue to see what they’ve got in Forbes in the season’s final tips.

In Calderon, they know what they’ve got, but the dilemma is in moving forward, which is what this whole rebuild has been about.

The way he’s played, what he’s meant to the team and how he’s been less exposed in Casey’s defensive system, Calderon deserves to be back.

But in the NBA, nothing is easy and the Raptors will soon have to make a difficult call on Calderon.

“Is he a one on one breakdown defender?’’ Casey asked. “No, but the system helps.

“He’s a smart player and he can play within our system.”

But does he fit into Toronto’s long-term plans?

It’s one of many off-season questions the Raptors will soon have to address.

 

WEDNESDAY'S GAME

Raptors vs Heat

7:30 p.m. at American Airlines Arena; Sportsnet One; Newstalk 610 CKTV

Marquee Matchup

LeBron James vs. Alan Anderson

Whether it’s Anderson, James Johnson or whomever the Raptors want to throw at James, no single player can stop James, but good team defence will at least force James from attacking the rim. When his jumper is on, no defence is capable of keeping James under wraps, no matter what people say or believe. In New Jersey on Monday, James took over by scoring 17 straight points in a Heat win over the Nets. “The guy is so big and so strong,” began Nets head coach Avery Johnson. “We attempted to double-team him twice, and he just overpowered our guys. And when the third defender came, he beat the third defender. Then we fouled him and he still scored. I’m at a loss for words.”

Scouting Report

With the Heat all but assured of the No. 2 seed for the second year in a row and with players nursing injuries, there isn’t much left to gain, except avoid further aches and pains. Fatigue, claim some, has affected the Heat in recent weeks, but that’s a convenient excuse to explain losses that should have been prevented. A case in point was last week’s crushing setback in Chicago when James missed a free throw late in regulation that would have iced the game and given Miami control of the East.

“We’ll continue to evaluate everything, every single game,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said of who will sit to rest up for the coming post-season. “We’re evaluating everything every day.” Spoelstra sat out Dwyane Wade (ankle) on Monday in what the coach deemed as a “maintenance program.’’

Did You Know?

Chris Bosh has posted back-to-back double-digit rebounding nights for the first time since early February. Bosh went the entire month of March without producing a single double-digit rebounding night. In back-to-back wins over the Knicks and Nets, Bosh produced a combined 29 boards. He has yet to put together a string of three double-digit rebounding games.

 


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