What follows after the jump is a debate on which point guard the Toronto Raptors should keep for the forseeable future. Jose Calderon is a restricted free agent and is expected to command serious cash on the free agent market. T.J. Ford is under contract for a few more seasons at roughly $8M per year. Both have been spoke about in trade rumors, and it seems to the point that neither can co-exist with the other for another full season. Jack Forsayeth believes Jose should go, while Blake Murphy takes the stance that Ford should pack his bags.
Opinion 1: Jack Forsayeth
Jose must go. As much as this pains me to say, I think it is true. He and TJ can not co-exist on a championship basketball team. Jose originally said he could handle being a backup on a winning team but my guess is his agent got to him and he seems to have changed his mind. That is the best thing that could’ve happened for the Raps because it is a waste of space, and money, to have two point guards that are good enough to play 40 minutes on most teams. Now, there is a case to be made that TJ should go also given his injury concerns but I disagree and here are some reasons why:
1. TJ is the better basketball player. This may shock people but he makes things happen and has the toughness that this team needs, a toughness that Jose lacks. We need a fearless point guard that attacks the rim and runs the transition offence perfectly. TJ showed that he has a nice jumper in the playoffs and is the perfect complement to Chris Bosh in the years going forward.
2. TJ will not get nearly his worth in the trade market whereas Jose will get equal or greater value due to his superb year. TJ has injury issues and not many teams will take that chance but I think he is a safe bet for the Raps to hold on to. Jose is coming off a career year and there are many point guard lacking teams that could use him and likely give a lot up for him. Many Raptors fans would agree that they have similar value for this team, give or take either way, so if one has greater trade value, it’s the obvious choice to get rid of him.
3. Bosh is the clear franchise player but a second option is crucial now that Bargnani doesn’t seem to be it, yet. Jose and Bosh have been the duo the last couple years and they have not panned out as we have hoped. There needs to be a shake-up in our top two and I think Jose can attract that 18-20 point slasher in return, plus we would still have a top-flight point guard and third or fourth option in Ford.
A sign and trade with Jose Calderon seems like the perfect plan, or do the equivalent and use Jose’s money to sign a top free agent such as Antawn Jamison. This plan gives us the best possible team for next season and the years going forward and will hopefully give us a tough and exciting slasher, or maybe centre, that this team has been lacking since the loss of McGrady and Carter (except for the ‘toughness’ part, of course).
This move would obviously leave us with a back-up point guard whole, as well as insurance for TJ, so that would have to be addressed in the sign and trade, free agency or the draft which is conveniently loaded with great PGs. At our pick, both Russell Westbrook or DJ Augustin would be nice additions. I love Jose, and wish him well on his new team, but this is the best decision for the Raptors and hopefully Colangelo figures that out too.
Opinon 2: Blake Murphy
T.J. Ford is the one to go. I like your arguments Jack, but I’m of the opinion that you always want to have the best players possible on your team. T.J. Ford has great offensive numbers, yes. I like T.J. I think he’s a top-flight point guard when healthy and could put up Mike James The Raptor-like numbers on a bad team. Okay, that’s a blind insult, but the point is that I agree that T.J. is a fantastic point guard. But I, too, have three reasons to keep The Ocho:
1. Jose is the better basketball player. Don’t kid yourself, T.J. is good but Jose is everything you teach a young point guard to aspire to be. The model of efficiency, Jose rarely turns the ball over (a fact that is wildly underrated), is a far better long-range shooter (making the pick-and-roll offense more deadly), and has had lower scoring totals out of selflessness more so than skill. Check the European YouTubes, Jose can drive (and dunk, trust), and we’ve seen that he can score at will against lesser or equal point guards.
2. Trade market value or not, you always have to keep the best team on the floor. Jose manages to get more out of everyone except Bargnani, apparently, and is a much more versatile guard in terms of building a team. Trading a player because he has higher trade value is a cop-out, allowing you to not decide between the two. Jose may command a little more but T.J. still has value as well, especially in combination with the team’s other trading pieces. A small trade upgrade is not worth losing the better point guard.
3. You can’t continue forward with a question mark at point guard. Like him or not, Ford has serious injury concerns now and forever with such a bad neck and spine. The draft has some point guard depth, yes, and Roko Ukic could be ready to come over for next season, but you still have to take the sure bet. Roko would actually be a great solution to losing T.J., as reports are that he’s a dynamic scoring guard. Regardless, if I have to enter the season with just one reliable point guard, I’m taking the guy with no injury history.
I understand the argument that Jose commands more value and is equal to T.J. in skill, at best. That’s a fair point of view, but over the past season the latter is just incorrect. Jose runs the team better and more efficiently, a difference large enough that you cannot move him just for greater trade value. “My Trade,” as it’s been called, is still a possibility (Ford, Rasho, Graham, and our #1 pick for Maggette and a contract), but regardless, you just can’t enter the season with a question mark at the point.