When Bryan Colangelo took over as general manager of the Toronto Raptors in February of 2006 he didn’t waste any time putting his stamp on the roster.
Colangelo quickly made over the team and in his first full season with the Raptors he constructed a club that won the Atlantic Division title in 2007. Ever since that season, Toronto has been going downhill as the general manager struggles to find the magic he had in his first year on the job.
One of the areas Colangelo struggles with has been repeated attempts to replace the team’s starting point guard. Since joining the team, Colangelo continues to make multiple moves trying to fix a position that has actually been one of the least concerns of the franchise.
Colangelo inherited Jose Calderon and for one reason or another has never viewed him as an acceptable starter for the Raptors.
His first major trade with Toronto was acquiring T.J. Ford. Ford posted career highs in his time as a Raptor, but only lasted two seasons before being shipped off to the Indiana Pacers.
At first, Ford appeared to be a wonderful piece but quickly got away from the playmaking that made him successful and decided he wanted to be a scorer. He changed from looking to pass first to looking for his shot first. Meanwhile, Calderon was coming off the bench and out playing the starter by taking better care of the ball and passing more while shooting a lot less.
Calderon won the starter’s role in Ford’s final season as a Raptor averaging 11.2 points, 8.3 assists, 1.5 turnovers while shooting 51.9% from the field. It was a no brainer who was the better guard to get the team involved as Calderon was averaging only 8.6 field goal attempts per game compared to Ford’s 15.7 attempts.
A year after the point guard controversy between Ford and Calderon, Colangelo signed Jarrett Jack to a four-year $20 million contract. Calderon got injured and Jack replaced him in the starting line-up even though Calderon still had better numbers. As he watched Jack start more games than he did after recovering, Calderon still had 5.9 assists and 1.5 turnovers compared to Jack’s five assists and two turnovers average.
Having enough of another point guard controversy, Jack was traded to the New Orleans Hornets in a deal that brought the team Jerryd Bayless. Bayless came in expected to be a bench player but received some time as a starter. Given his love trading for point guards, Colangelo most likely thought he had a potential steal acquiring the former first round pick but unfortunately things didn’t work out for Bayless in Toronto.
After letting Bayless go this past summer, Colangelo once again made a trade for a new point guard this time using the team’s 2013 first round draft pick to attain Kyle Lowry.
A puzzling move considering that Calderon had just come off a season averaging 10.5 points, 8.8 assists, and three rebounds while committing only two turnovers a game. At the age of only 30, Calderon proved that he could carry the team as the starting point guard and that trading a first round pick would be better served to acquire help in other areas.
Instead, Colangelo continued to attempt to upgrade a position the team needed no help in while ignoring the areas the team did. The Raptors havn’t had a decent small forward since the horrific injury to Jorge Garbajosa changed his career forever. Not to mention the team was never able to provide Chris Bosh with a half-decent center to give the power forward a bit of protection down low. Instead, the best center he ever had was an aging Rasho Nesterovic, who only lasted a couple of seasons.
Despite all the knocks on Calderon for his defense, the team as a whole in his entire Raptor career has been poor at best on the defensive end. If Toronto ever managed to attain a shot blocking center, then guards getting by Calderon would actually have something to think about as to oppose to whether they wanted to simply finger roll or sink the lay-up off glass. The Raptors’ point guard is not great on defense but he is no worse than Steve Nash. He is only made to look a lot worse because of how bad the entire Toronto team has been on defense during his time with the team.
Calderon’s name has been mentioned in trade rumors to begin the year as he’s likely to be dealt being in the final year of his contract. However, it remains puzzling as to why so many of Colangelo’s trades involved point guards when the team needed much greater help in several other areas. In fact it can be said that during the Bosh era, the point guard position was the only other area the Raptors ever received consistency from and the major reason for that was Calderon.
Colangelo clearly never had any interest in the best statistical point guard in team history, who continues to play his heart out every time he puts on his Raptors jersey. Now the general manager must hope that over the next six months the pick he traded away doesn’t come back to haunt him, considering he used it to upgrade a position that didn’t need fixing.