Toronto Raptors: With Kyle Lowry Expected to Return, How Long Does Jose Calderon Remain A Starter?

By Michael Roberts
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

With Kyle Lowry expected to return to the line-up against the New Orleans Hornets, one has to wonder how much longer Jose Calderon will remain the Toronto Raptors’ starting point guard.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey expects Lowry to suit up for the first time after missing the past seven games with a triceps injury. If Lowry dresses he’ll be coming off the bench after Casey told Doug Smith of the Toronto Star that Calderon has earned the job of being the team’s starting point guard.

In Lowry’s absence Calderon has stepped up as a starter averaging 13.1 points, 10.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds while committing only 2.1 turnovers per game. He’s had a double-double of 10 points and 15 assists, a 17 assist performance, and a triple-double with 18 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds and zero turnovers.

Calderon was the direct spark that fueled the Raptors to their five game win streak and has unquestionably deserved the right to be the team’s starting point guard. However, with his contract up at the end of the season and Lowry’s addition in the offseason to become the team’s starter, how long does Calderon have left before he returns to his role off the bench or even off the team altogether?

Before being injured, Lowry was averaging 15.8 points, 5.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds. The guard was already forced to miss six games earlier in the season with an ankle injury and, upon returning looked as if he was trying to do too much single handily to fix the problems of a struggling team. Some labelled his performance as selfish after returning, or questioned the confidence he had in his teammates to perform. After the five game win streak with Lowry out of the line-up, the guard shouldn’t have any doubts in his teammates abilities to perform.

Lowry will likely return and say all the right things regarding coming off the bench, something along the lines of being ready to help the team in anyway. However, there’s no secret being kept, it’s common knowledge he wants to be the team’s starter but he won’t create drama by saying it publicly.

If Lowry does contribute off the bench and return to the level he’s played at most of the season, how long before he returns as the team’s starter? How many bad games has Calderon earned before the switch will be made? Despite averaging a double-double in Lowry’s absence, with the point guard controversy about to surround the team, there’s no doubt questions will arise the moment Calderon begins to struggle in any way.

With his contract expiring at season’s end, there also remains the possibility of Toronto general manager trading Calderon in order to remove the potential distraction from the team. It’s no secret he’s been trying to replace Calderon for years, this may now be the perfect time given his recent play as his value may never be this high again. Plus, John Lucas has proven in Lowry’s absence that he is perfectly capable of being the team’s back-up point guard.  Whether Colangelo waits until the trade deadline or makes a move after Lowry proves his health, something will have to give soon with the logjam at point guard.

Expect Lowry to be the good soldier and say all the right things in the media, its already a given Calderon will. However, the fun is just beginning now that Lowry is ready to return from injury.

For the 645,050th time during Calderon’s career as a Raptor, Toronto has a point guard controversy.

Michael covers ACC and Big East basketball along with the Toronto Raptors for Rant Sports, you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelxRoberts

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