For some time now the Toronto Raptors have been trying to trade or replace Jose Calderon. This summer the team-first Calderon did seemingly reach his breaking point as he requested a trade.
The Raps have added Kyle Lowry, and he is a legit NBA PG who will earn numerous minutes for Dwane Casey. Word is that the play of new Rap John Lucas III could make a seemingly already expendable Calderon even more expendable.
Calderon is an asset. He has led the NBA in 3 of the past 5 seasons for assists-to-turnovers rate. He does not play the defense necessary to stay in the T-Dot in my opinion.
The Raps may still decide to keep him for this season as A) Lucas does not have a ton of NBA experience…and B) Calderon’s $10.5 million contract comes off the books at seasons-end so that is very valuable in the salary-cap NBA. Expiring contracts are like gold in the NBA.
A wild-card here is Lucas. Despite being 29 he is really just now getting a legit shot to be an NBA contributor. He went to Baylor University and Oklahoma State University. He entered the NBA undrafted in 2005. He spent time in the Minnesota Timberwolves organization, then the Houston Rockets (twice). He also had multiple stints in the D-League, plus overseas action in Italy (twice), Spain, and China.
Lucas has played in 111 NBA games (2 starts) and last season the Chicago Bulls provided the most NBA playing time Lucas has ever had. He had career-highs in minutes, points, assists, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, and free throw percentage.
He signed with the Raps for 2 years, $3 million. The Raps have paid much more for bench production in the past (Yogi Stewart, Lamond Murray, Marcus Banks etc). He has impressed in preseason, and is trying to earn trust/playing time from Casey.
Lucas was great in the 4th quarter of a Bulls win over the Raptors last season which is perhaps where he caught the attention of Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo.
Early on in the preseason Lucas is getting around 20 minutes per game, and he is producing good points and good assists. His free-throw percentage has slipped, but Lucas has a history of inconsistent foul shooting. His 3-ball percentage has been very good (.438 currently). He shot .393 from downtown last season. 2 seasons ago the Raps shot .316 as a team from 3-ball range (last in NBA) and last season they shot .340 (19th in NBA) so if Lucas can be consistent with his long-range jumper he will earn even more playing time.
Lucas is a guy who can drive the ball to the basket, and has strength and quickness to be effective. He is not a steals threat, but offensively he can keep the 2nd unit productive with his own offense plus his ability to facilitate for teammates. He is not a guy who is going to turn the ball over a lot.
Lucas’ father was John Lucas II who was a long-time NBA player (a former #1 overall draft pick) and also a long-time coach. Basketball is in Lucas III blood. If he continues his good play then we may yet see a Calderon trade.
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