Something amiss with Calderon

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

TORONTO - Barring a dramatic about face, the Raptors will open next week's season opener against the New York Knicks with Jose Calderon at the point.

More than anything, what is required from Calderon is a dramatic change in form in the days leading up to next Wednesday's visit by New York when the games actually mean something.

The tedium of pre-season comes to its conclusion Friday, when the Raptors will play host to the gang from Gotham in Montreal.

Whether it's a subtle reminder of his role and his importance to the Raptors, whether it's taking a seat on the bench, which isn't likely to happen, Calderon has to undergo a change because the status quo cannot continue.

Against the visiting Chicago Bulls, a banged-up bunch that still fielded an explosive point guard in Derrick Rose, Calderon was casual, not engaged, leading the starting unit to yet another slow start against an opponent that's a shell of what it eventually evolve into.

Something is definitely amiss with Calderon and it somehow must be corrected.

How it gets remedied, what options exist, what possible repercussions await cannot be clarified.

This is a guy who is clearly caught up in the trade that wasn't a trade when the Raptors and Bobcats reportedly had a deal that would have seen Calderon and Reggie Evans headed to Charlotte for Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler.

From this vantage point, it's obvious the residue of that nixed deal has impacted Calderon, a good guy who has been exposed to the cruel business of basketball and who hasn't handled it properly.

In contrast, you have Evans, a slimmed-down version, but still a bruiser, crashing the glass, giving the Raptors extra possessions and playing each trip down the court as though it were his last.

Evans has been around the block, understands the bottom line of the NBA and is looking to make impression knowing full well that his future isn't in Toronto in this his contract season.

In Calderon, you have a point guard looking to find his groove.

Based on the preseason, Calderon does not deserve the start, but how do the Raptors relegate him to the bench when they already know the fragility of his confidence unless they want to risk further damage to his psyche.

It's almost sad watching Calderon interact, a lost soul who almost seems out of place in a place that made him one of their core pieces when it became apparent that change was necessary.

There is no room for sensitivity in this cut-throat world, but Calderon appears to have taken the business of basketball too personal.

Maybe the light will finally go off when the curtain raises next Wednesday, but there's been no evidence.

In Wednesday's 110-103 loss to Chicago, Calderon missed all six of his shots from the field and did not score a single point in close to 25 minutes.

No longer can the Raptors rely on the pick and roll, a one-time staple that presented open looks to Calderon when a defender went under screens.

The Raptors aren't as bad as many of the U.S.-based mavens would have you believe, but they're nowhere good enough either to have not even a single player play to a mediocre level.

But that has been Calderon during most of the pre-season, a marginal player who is showing no signs of turning the corner.

Jarrett Jack is leading a second unit that continually provides energy, entering games when the starting group has gotten off to bad starts.

He's missed a couple of practices this week to rest a banged-up knee. He's also nursing a sore elbow and his status against the Bulls was a game-time decision.

Jack isn't without his faults, but you can't fault him for the way he gets engaged in games, Chicago's visit the latest, and gets his unit off and running.

There's no trade on the immediate horizon and no point in burying Calderon on the bench.

What Calderon needs is a wake-up call.

Right now, he looks too much out of place and completely out of sync.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos