According to Dough Smith of the Toronto Star, upon his return from yet another injury, Lowry will be coming off the bench in favor of Calderon:
Injured Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry is close to returning to the active list and the team’s coach — who said last week he would “cross that London Bridge when he came to it” — will have a difficult decision to make.
Lowry took part in a full practice here on Christmas night and could play as early as Friday in New Orleans after missing six games with a partially torn right triceps muscle.
The Raptors won five of the first six games Lowry missed and took a season-high five-game winning streak into a matchup with the Spurs here Wednesday night.
And because of the leadership shown by veteran Jose Calderon, Lowry will come off the bench whenever he gets back.
Though Lowry is believed—or was once believed—to be a pillar for this Toronto team, Dwane Casey is making the right call here. Calderon is averaging more than 10 assists over the last seven games, a stretch where the Raptors have gone 5-2. He’s also posting a PER of 18.28 and shooting 44.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Truth be told, there was really no other call for Casey to make. Calderon has been playing too well to bench. More importantly, he has been playing too well to trade.
The NBA has been littered with Calderon trade rumors for more than a year now. With his contract expiring at the end of this season and a 26-year-old Lowry in tow, Toronto was afforded the luxury of shopping the 31-year-old floor general. But the operative word here is “was,” because they simply cannot afford to get rid of him at this point. I mean, this is a guy who has posted two three triple-doubles on the season.
Yes, Calderon is getting older and you have to wonder how much longer he can play at a high level, but don’t be surprised if the Raptors actually try to re-sign once the season concludes. He’s been that good. More over, don’t be shocked if you see Lowry hit the trade block instead. He’s been an asset when healthy, but just like it was with the Houston Rockets, he has struggled to remain healthy.
Plus, did I mention that Calderon was playing that good?
I’m not ready to deem the Lowry acquisition a bust. Not when he’s still so young, when he has so much potential and when Toronto dealt away essentially nothing to acquire him. But I am ready to declare Calderon the unquestionable leader and the best point guard on the Raptors’ roster. He has helped restore faith in the franchise. He helped fuel a five game winning streak to counteract Toronto’s six consecutive losses.
And he’s the one who should not only be starting, but invested in for the immediate future.
Because unlike Lowry, he can be depended upon consistently; he is durable enough to withstand the rigors of an entire NBA season.
He’s equipped to undertake the the immense burden that is carrying an ambiguous Raptors team. Not Lowry.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.