Jose Calderon just keeps doing his job.
The veteran guard is entering his eighth season in the NBA – all with the Toronto Raptors – which makes him the first Raptor to do so. Calderon finds himself in another battle for the starting point guard position.
It’s nothing new for the Spaniard, who has had to compete for a spot in the Raptors’ backcourt his entire career.
“I’ll be happy, I’m always happy,” the Raptors guard told reporters.
Calderon joined the Raptors at the start of the 2005-06 season and ranked third among all rookies with 4.5 assists per game.
The following season Calderon served as backup to TJ Ford, who was brought in via trade from Milwaukee. Ford and Calderon forged a strong partnership, leading the Raptors to their first Atlantic Division title.
Ford missed a long stretch of games, allowing Calderon the opportunity to start and he seized the chance. Upon Ford’s return, Calderon happily returned to the bench, doing anything to help the team win.
Calderon went on to win the starting role, and Ford was later shipped out of town. The Raptors signed Calderon to a lucrative mulit-year contract extension. It seemed as though he had finally cemented himself as the team’s point guard.
The following season general manager Bryan Colangelo overhauled the under-performing team, bringing in point guard Jarrett Jack from Indiana and guard/forward Hedo Turkoglu from Orlando.
The Spaniard again found himself sharing the ball with Jack and Turkoglu, and a mid-season injury allowed Jack to takeover the starting job.
Early that off-season the Raptors had a deal in place sending Calderon to the Charlotte Bobcats in return for a package including Tyson Chandler. If not for a last-minute cancellation by Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, Calderon would have been gone.
Calderon was hurt, but never let it show and he continued to come to the gym to help the team in anyway he could.
He has always said the right things and put the team first. It’s that selfless nature that has made Calderon a fan favorite in Toronto, despite his obvious flaws on the defensive end.
This season the team again traded for a point guard, shipping a future first-round pick to Houston for Kyle Lowry.
Lowry will start for Raptors, being a better fit for head coach Dwane Casey’s defensive approach. Calderon will play the role of backup, again, and will do so with a smile.
“Jose’s one of the best,” said Casey. “I know there was a lot of grumbling around but I expect nothing — whether he’s the starter or coming off the bench — no rumblings at all because his heart’s in the right place and he’s going to do the right thing for this team and this organization.”
Calderon hopes he can combine with Lowry and lead the Raptors back to the post-season for the first time since 2008.
“If he scores 20 points per game, I’ll be happy,” Calderon said of Lowry. “Maybe he is helping us win.”