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Jose Calderon is a Piston, and I hope it’s for the long haul

The Pistons getting Jose Calderon from Toronto in exchange for Tayshaun Prince is essentially a subdued version of Joe Dumars’ trade of Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson in 2008.

Prior to the Iverson trade, the Pistons were headed into the summer of 2009 with a bit of financial flexibility because of expiring contracts to Rip Hamilton, Antonio McDyess and Rasheed Wallace. Trading Billups for Iverson’s expiring deal vaulted them from a team with money to toy with their roster to a team that could potentially add significant pieces to the roster (we won’t talk about how that ended).

This trade does the same thing. The salaries of Calderon and Prince are a bit less, but the principle is the same — the Pistons add another large expiring contract in place of a pricey long-term deal. They were already going to be players on the free agent market, but now they have the ability to add multiple pieces that could quickly take the team from a lottery team to a playoff team if they spend the money wisely (again, try to forget 2009 happened).

However the Pistons spend their money in the offseason, I hope potentially signing Calderon rates higher on their priority list heading into free agency than re-signing Iverson did (stay out of the casinos, Jose, and that will help). This isn’t a criticism of Brandon Knight even though it kind of is. I firmly believe that Calderon, even with some flaws in his game, is a better point guard than Knight can develop into. Calderon’s presence doesn’t mean the team should necessarily cut ties with Knight. In fact, playing with Calderon will create new opportunities for Knight, whether it is as a starting shooting guard or a sixth man who works as a hybrid guard.

When Iverson came to Detroit as a rental, him working was a longshot. The team still considered a contender, and Iverson still considered himself a franchise player. For that trade to work, a team with a strong identity would have to incorporate a strong-willed player whose identity was very different from that of the team. Even if everything went right, Iverson’s talents meshing with how Detroit played was never going to be likely. And when things started going wrong, it obviously became an impossible relationship.

Now, the team is in a different position. The Pistons are not contenders, but a team deficient in several important skills. Calderon is not a star player, he’s a veteran who will command a fairly modest salary (at least by Iverson standards) and exhibits three needed skills (shooting, passing and taking care of the ball) that the Pistons severely lack. So unlike Iverson, at least skill-wise, he should be a seamless fit.

It’s easy to envision Calderon helping virtually every player on the roster. The most obvious example is finding Andre Drummond in the pick and roll. Calderon is a fantastic passer, uses screens well and Drummond, as we know, finishes everything, even the erratic lobs he’s received all season from Pistons guards. Imagine what he’ll do with a guard who is actually a precision passer? Or what Calderon will do playing with a guy who can go up and get even risky or bad passes?

With a shooter like Calderon who hits 39 percent of his 3-pointers for his career, imagine how his presence will make teams pay for collapsing inside on Greg Monroe. Imagine how the offense in general will flourish without defenders being able to cheat underneath screens like they do with Will Bynum or Rodney Stuckey, who teams beg to shoot from outside.

If Lawrence Frank actually has the audacity — asking a lot, I know — to play his best lineup, imagine the many ways a starting five of Calderon, Knight, Singler, Monroe and Drummond could attack offensively. Imagine Monroe being able to operate in the post with three capable perimeter shooters surrounding him and an active cutter in Drummond. Imagine Drummond’s knack for offensive rebounding allowing him to create open looks for those shooters as the defense has to scramble to find them. Imagine a change-of-pace bench that features Bynum, Stuckey, Jerebko and Maxiell just coming into a game and running non-stop.

Those things are all possible because of this trade and because of Calderon’s valuable skills. But the Pistons also help Calderon as well. He has a (deserved) reputation as a bad defensive player. It’s also pretty easy to look like a bad defender as a guard when your rim-protectors are Aaron Gray and Andrea Bargnani. Playing with Drummond behind him will certainly make Calderon seem more competent defensively.

For the first time in a long time, because of Calderon, the Pistons have the potential to have a crisply run offense for more than just fleeting moments. Dumars traded Billups and his skillset without understanding how irreplaceable the things Billups did to make an offense run smoothly truly are. Calderon is certainly not as good a player as Billups, but he’s the first legitimate point guard the Pistons had since. Hopefully this summer, the team remembers just how hard it is to find those skills and takes a hard look at making Calderon more than just an attractive contract.

32 Comments

  • Jan 31, 20134:43 pm
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    if the Calderon trade, and moving Knight to SG… is Joe Dumars getting his balls back..im all for it…because that means Drummond will be starting soon

    However, if Maxiell continues to start and its still become about Bynum and Dre… .then im just look towards the summer…
     

  • Jan 31, 20135:16 pm
    by Big Rick

    Reply

    I’m all in. Like I mentioned before it just makes too much sense. Quite a few people just view this as a short term move to shed salary. But I’m optimistic that we re-sign Calderon after this season. I think his presence and court awareness will make our lineup better. I would be content moving forward if the question regarding our backcourt is if we do sign Calderon going forward; do we keep Stuckey, Bynum or neither?

    • Feb 1, 20139:07 am
      by G

      Reply

      Put it this way:
      Stuckey – .382 fg%, .297 3pt%, .78 ft%, 11.4 ppg, 3.9 apg, 1.7 tov, and 12.82 PER in 28.5 min
      Bynum – .442 fg%, .357 3pt%, .80 ft%, 8.6 ppg, 3.4 apt, 1.6 tov, and 15.42 PER in 17.6 min
      Bynum is worse defensively and shorter, but I’d say he’s been the better player this year. He’s actually won us a couple games, which I Stuckey can’t say, and he runs the offense better than anybody else on the team (pre-Calderon). Plus he’ll be cheaper to keep.

      • Feb 1, 20139:36 am
        by MIKEYDE248

        Reply

        I agree completely.  Stuckey has always been a shoot first player and putting up the numbers he has this year, it has only hurt the team.

        Bynum in the past was always a shoot first player also, but that was mostly due to never having someone to pass to.  Since he has been playing with Drummond along with CV & Daye (when they were scoreing), he started showing us the passing side of himself.  Including a 12 assist night.

  • Jan 31, 20135:26 pm
    by Big Rick

    Reply

    Jose Calderon has been underrated and under the radar for years. Maybe because he played with Toronto, but as far underrated point guards go…

    1. Andre Miller
    2. Jose Calderon
    3. Luke Ridnour
    4. Goran ‘The Dragon” Dragic
    5. Jeff Teague

    *Grievis Vasquez (rapidly climbing)

    I would have been happy acquiring either one on that list with the 1st three being the only realistic possibilities. Hopefully with Jose onboard we can put together a squad compettive enough to convince him to stay without us breaking the bank.

    • Jan 31, 20135:39 pm
      by apa8ren9

      Reply

      I agree, I personally championed Luke Ridnour, but this trade just makes all kind of sense for what we needed and I am happy again.  Cant wait till the Cleveland game.  Hopefully Calderon will be playing.

  • Jan 31, 20135:29 pm
    by Jodi Jezz

    Reply

    As long as Calderon comes off the bench and Knight continues to be our PG of the future, I’m a happy man…

    • Jan 31, 20137:46 pm
      by Desolation Row

      Reply

      Okay, what if Knight is still the “PG of the future” but starts at SG for the rest of the season with Calderon starting at PG?

      • Jan 31, 201310:17 pm
        by Jodi Jezz

        Reply

        Why would he hinder Knights PG development for a 31 year old player who’s contract is expiring??. Calderon is here to be a mentor to Knight for half a season…If Calderon and Dumars can agree to a fair contract as a back-up PG I could see Calderon returning next season…

        • Feb 1, 201312:17 am
          by Jerrific

          Reply

          If Knight can’t learn to play PG in half a season (which all evidence suggests he can’t) than we can’t afford to let Calderon walk. 

  • Jan 31, 20135:37 pm
    by apa8ren9

    Reply

    Im all for Calderon and I am happy with the trade, but can we play some games first?  I look forward to this working out, but there is theory and there is reality.  Lets get a real sample size of production and winning games (not just highlights) and then talk about resigning him.  Last time I checked people who get praised for doing a good job dont generally like large paycuts.

  • Jan 31, 20135:48 pm
    by Vic

    Reply

    As long as we win more games and are more productive on offense and defense and I get to watch beautiful Detroit Basketball again, I’m happy.
    I don’t know how they can backtrack after experiencing a pg like Jose.

    The most exciting thing about this trade is it shows that Joe may have finally ended his fetish with combo scoring guards and is willing to see what a naturally talented decision maker can do for a team.

    This also lengthens the leash on Frank. There’s less stuff for him to mess up when you have a coach on the floor.  As long as he plays Calderon (and Drummond?) he can focus on the process and let the players win the games.

    No all Joe has to do is sign iguodala or tyreke and Detroit basketball is back for Good.

    • Jan 31, 20139:21 pm
      by I HATE FRANK

      Reply

      josh smith does  not fit,iggy will be 30, tyreke becomes the best option maybe  and save money

  • Jan 31, 20136:03 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    agree wholeheartedly.
    i’d still draft burke, and see how things played out with both of them on the roster.  either player would be a valuable asset to trade, if you found that their skills were redundant.
    as a committed amir fan, i would tune into raptors games, just to see him play.  i found that i would tune away if calderon was not on the floor with him.  when calderon and amir – and later davis – were on the floor together, they would just dissect teams with pick and rolls.  it was just beautiful basketball to watch.  amir’s quickness and hands; calderon’s timing and passing.  
    detroit fans got a little taste of that kind of BB when mcgrady played the point here a couple of years ago, but that only lasted a couple dozen games.  calderon is even better than mcgrady, as he will probe and probe until he gets the matchup or angle he wants and in that respect, he is very nash-like.
    it is likely that calderon understands that he’s not getting another 9 million per payday, and if detroit can sign him to a reasonable contract til he’s around 34-35 or so, then do it by all means.
    even if you end up drafting burke. 
    as someone else said, at least joe d has tossed his former aversion to true point guards on the scrap heap of history.  gone.  dead.  thank god. 

  • Jan 31, 20137:53 pm
    by ZekeKhaseli

    Reply

    “ Imagine a change-of-pace bench that features Bynum, Stuckey, Jerebko and Maxiell just coming into a game and running non-stop”. I was beautifully lost in my imagination until this line. 

  • Feb 1, 201312:57 am
    by gmehl

    Reply

    I would just like to add that at the start of the season i put forward the idea of trading Maggette/Daye for Calderon and everyone shot me down. A couple of days after i had lobbied for that trade he dropped 20 assists in a game and then something like 15 a game later. I’m glad the way things have worked out in that we’ve managed to keep Maggette and his 10mil expiring deal and now have a 42 game look at Calderon to see how he slots in and at worst becomes a 10mil expiring deal too.

    Patrick makes a good point about Calderon and his being a bad defender. He didn’t look like a bad defender playing for Spain at the Olympics and from the games i’ve seen him play he held his own. He will never be a great defender but if he can play good team defence then he wont be a problem.

    • Feb 1, 201310:42 am
      by apa8ren9

      Reply

      I might have been in that throng, cause I REALLY did not like Calderon’s defense and I preferred L. Ridnour (cheaper), but Knight got so bad with the turnovers that he definitely needed some help, like Tayshaun said at some point last year.  But I am happy with this and the fact that Drummond is the real deal can probably mask a little bit of Calderon’s defensive deficiency.  He cant play any worse defense than Bynum but is a superior offensive player.  He wont take 22ft jumpers with the defense all over him. 

  • Feb 1, 20135:37 am
    by Tom Y.

    Reply

    Calderon-Knight-Singler-Monroe-Drummond should be a great, great unit offensively, though it will take them a little time to mesh and I hope the coach is able to devise good offensive schemes for them. It’s a pretty complex offense if you’re trying to incorporate both bigs and take advantage of Monroe’s passing as well.

    Defensively, this team might actually work better with a bigger defender at SG, maybe Stuckey, maybe even English, who hasn’t had a chance to show much yet but could be a good shooter and a good defender at the position, which is exactly what we need. I’d like to see him getting some minutes to start evaluating what he can do. But first let’s see if Frank is capable of starting Calderon and Dre together.

  • Feb 1, 20135:42 am
    by Tom Y.

    Reply

    As for the future, I’d like to see them draft Trey Burke, though even if they manage to get him, I wouldn’t mind him sharing the backcourt with Calderon for a couple of years and learning from him. If they don’t get him, they absolutely need to keep Calderon around.

  • Feb 1, 20137:39 am
    by Lloyd D.

    Reply

    Way to early to give up on Knight as a PG. He has big time taleny and is only 20. I remember a lot of people questioning Chauncy and many teams gave up on him. Calderon might be a nice role player butshould be nothing more at this point. We need to develop our young talent and add new young talent. This has got to be the priority. Calderon is 31 and on the downside. hr doesn’t appear to be much of a long-term option.

    • Feb 1, 20138:16 am
      by Vic

      Reply

      Knight plays like a shooting guard and has the natural talent of a scorer, not a point guard. Court vision is a natural talent, waiting years for it to develop is a waste of money and energy and is an inefficient use of talent considering Knight is such a capable scorer. 
      The only way to turn Knight into a pg is to hire Larry brown, Phil Jackson, gregg Popovich or Jerry Sloan as coach 

    • Feb 1, 20139:14 am
      by G

      Reply

      Would you say they gave up too early on Stuckey as a PG? Because they passed on Lawson to draft Daye in 2009, when Stuckey had played the position for all of 2 years and his assist/turnover numbers were a bit better than Knight’s are. All indications were Stuckey wasn’t going to develop into a PG, Joe D decided to stick with it, and Stuckey never developed into a PG.
      Here we are, 4 years later, in the same spot. We’ve got a PG who looks more like a SG. Do you want to persist in making the same mistake over again?

      • Feb 1, 20139:43 am
        by Lloyd D.

        Reply

        I would say you can’t be afraid to make a mistake now beacause you made a mistake in the past. Stuckey isn’t not just a pg, but he isn’t that good of a player overall. Joe called him a combo guard on draft day. He knew he wasn’t a true point but thought he was a player. Joe missed on him as a player. He just isn’t that good. The key for Knight is if he is a building block player. He might end up as a 2, but if he is a player then he will slide over to the 2 with little difficulty. We are rebuilding and need to find out what we have. Knight just turned 21. He played one short season with a short camp and hasn’t completed his second season. He needs more time to develop as a player and needs more talent around him. I would be fine with them taking a talented pg in the draft and making Knight move to the 2 but not if a more talented player is available. We need talented players right now.  

  • Feb 1, 20139:22 am
    by Lloyd D.

    Reply

    Most point guards in todays game are not pure points. They score and make plays. I would say again that the same things were said of Chauncey who did develop and improve as a point. You could even say the same thing of the great Isaiah Thomas who many considered a scoring pg. Knight ca score and make plays from the pg position. Who is he going to dish the ball to at this point anyway? I’m fine with Knight at the 2 if we acquire a pg after the season, but Calderon is not a building block. Knight might be a building block and should be given every chance to reach his full potential as a player.

    • Feb 1, 201310:02 am
      by G

      Reply

      Pure PG or not, do you know what the top 22 leaders in assists have in common? An assist/turnover ratio over 2. In fact, with 5 exceptions they are all better than 2.3, all averaging 5.7 assists per game. Knight’s assist/turnover ratio is 1.45 (last among PGs) and he gets 4.3 assists per game (last among PGs with at least 30 min/game).

      Knight is not a scoring PG, he’s a shooting guard. You know who’s a scoring PG? Russell Westbrook. His second year he averaged 8 assists and 3 turnovers, nearly double what Knight has. How about Jameer Nelson? His second year he averaged 4.9 assists and 2.4 turnovers. I could go on. If you want Knight to reach his full potential as a player, stop trying to make him a PG.

  • Feb 1, 201310:44 am
    by Lloyd D.

    Reply

    Did you miss the part where Knight just turned 21 and has barely played over a full season’s worth of games? His stats will improve in time just like most true nba players. The sample size on Knight is pretty small at this point. I’m not convinced he is a PG at this point either. I’m also not convinced his is a shooting guard. We need talent around Knight, and that is the bottom line. Westbrook has maybe the most talent around him of any PG in the NBA, and its not like he is available to come play for us. Also not sure what you are planning to win with Jameer Nelson as your leader? He doesn’t exactly have a long history of winning. And his 2nd year stats that you noted aren’t too far of of where Knight is at. He also His first season was also shorter and he is just over half way through this his second season. He could still improve on his stats from this year. I’m not saying he is a sure thing at PG. I’m just trying to say that e don’t know yet and have a small sample size fom which to judge. I don’t want to give up on him so that a 31 year old on the downside of his career, who may not be here next year, can play. Play the young guys!

    • Feb 1, 20131:44 pm
      by G

      Reply

      I gave them as examples of shoot first PGs, not as someone you want to build your team around. If you were paying attention, the stat I said was most important was assist/turnover ratio. In Nelson’s second year it was better than 2. Knight’s is 1.4. And Nelson wasn’t exactly playing with the ’87 Lakers, his sophomore season they finished with a losing record.

      Knight hasn’t fully developed yet but there’s enough there to see the trajectory, and it’s pointing to SG.

      Take a look at successful shoot-first PGs, I can guarantee their 2nd year numbers were better than Knights are. Tony Parker, Steph Curry, Brandon Jennings, Kemba Walker, Kyle Lowry… All those guys at least LOOKED like a PG in their 2nd season, Knight still doesn’t.

  • Feb 1, 20133:09 pm
    by Lloyd D.

    Reply

    I was paying attention, but I don’t think your stat is the most important thing in deciding if a second year point guard will make it at the point position. Most are not as young or inexperienced at the same point in their careers as Knight. Your premise rests on the idea that Knight will not get better as a point guard based on the 2nd year assist to turnover ratio of several other point guards. I’m not sold on that theory at all. He may not end up a PG, but giving up on that idea right now because we have Calderon and a few guys have had btter assist to turnover margins is crazy! I’m sure if we looked we could find guys who had bad margins and have improved. I don’t think assist to turnover ratio tells the whole story on a PG anyway. Yes, its an important stat but doesn’t mean that player will be a winner or even an all star. Young players make mistakes, and Knight has shown enough that he should get some time to show what he can do. Just my opinion.

    • Feb 1, 20133:43 pm
      by G

      Reply

      What’s a PG’s job? Handle the ball, facilitate the offense, and score (in some order). If you don’t do one of those things well, you better make up for it in the other 2 categories. Brandon Knight does none of it well. He turns it over too much because he doesn’t see the court like a PG should. He doesn’t get a lot of assists for the same reason, and he doesn’t score as well as he might because he’s trying to do something he’s not good at – facilitate.

      Kyrie Irving is a good example of a young 2nd year PG with a bad assist/turnover ratio. His is only slightly better than Knight’s, in fact (and his teammates are worse than Knight’s). He makes up for it by scoring in bunches, though. The difference is Irving is by FAR the best scoring option on his team, Knight is probably 3rd. More scoring options means you should have more assists. Knight still gets less assists than Irving.

      You can always find an exception to the rule, but usually that exception is due to extenuating circumstances. Billups is a good example of that. There are no extenuating circumstances in Knight’s case. He has been handed the PG role and every evaluator says he doesn’t see the floor like a PG should. The rep on him in the draft was the same, he’s more of a 2-guard. We tried to make it work, it’s not working.

    • Feb 1, 20133:48 pm
      by G

      Reply

      Really, Knight has never been a facilitator. Go back to high school, know how many assists he had his senior year? 3.9 per game (I don’t know what the TOV numbers were). In college he averaged 4.2 assists and 3.2 turnovers. He has no history of possessing the PG gene, he DOES have a history of possessing the scoring gene. Let him score, let someone else be the PG.

  • Feb 1, 20139:15 pm
    by Lloyd D.

    Reply

    I think you keep missing the part where he just turned 21! You say that he is the third best scoring option and then say let him score? I’m just saying lets see what he does in the next couple of years because it is too early to make a determination with certainty. I have watched several of Knights high school games. They were on espn and are currently on youtube. He was allowed to shoot whenever he wanted and was the only reason his team was any good. He played one year in college, and if you add up all of his career nba games he is barely in his second year. He was never really asked to facilitate very much at the high school and college levels and is still learning to play the nba game and growing at his position. He may never be a true point but is and can be an even better playmaker.

    I think it is splitting hairs to say that the we have mre talent than the cavs. If we do it is not by much, and the fact is neother team has much developed talent at this point. I also wouldn’t say that Knight is our third best option. I think he can score from the point and has at times but like many young players is inconsistent at this poit. He has made big shots/plays at times with the game still in question. Who would you want to take the last shot at this point? He is one of our few players that have a chance to still be around when the pistons are good again. He along with the rest of our young guys need playing time to develop.    

    In the long run I might be just fine with Knight at the 2, but it would all depend on who that someone at the pg would be.  

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