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The Detroit Pistons get some salary cap relief by taking on Jose Calderon's expiring contract, but they also get a pure distributor as a point guard who should get spread the ball around on offense.
Everyone is talking about the potential fit for Rudy Gay with the Toronto Raptors and the infusion of new blood on the Memphis Grizzlies, but Jose Calderon and his potential impact on the Detroit Pistons should not be overlooked.
Calderon had been on the trading block for the better part of two years in Toronto, but that doesn't mean he isn't a quality player.
His five-year, $45 million contract was always a bit gaudy considering his defensive deficiencies and tendency to eschew his own scoring opportunities, but now Calderon's contract is expiring and Detroit will be more than $30 million under the salary cap when his $10.5 million cap hit comes off the books this summer. The Pistons aren't just happy about dumping $15 million in long-term salary commitment in the trade; they also think they've finally found a pure point guard to pair with Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and even Brandon Knight.
Calderon has always been a pass-first point guard, which should be a welcome sight for Pistons fans used to watching Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Will Bynum (and previously Ben Gordon) dominate the ball in the backcourt. The 31-year-old Spaniard has finished in the top 10 in the NBA for assists per game in five of the last six seasons, and his career mark of 7.2 dimes per game is good for seventh-highest among all active NBA players.
The assists aren't just a product of time on the floor, either. Calderon has also assisted on an estimated 39.9 percent of teammate field goals while on the floor for the 14,909 minutes of his career. That Assist Percentage mark is notably high.
Calderon has finished in the top five among NBA players for Assist Percentage over six of the past seven seasons, and his numbers have peaked in the last two years at 44.2 percent and 43.6 percent. He simply loves to pass the ball and get teammates involved. To put it in perspective, Knight (21.7), Stuckey (25.0) and Bynum (29.5) all have a career Assist Percentage below 30, and Calderon can hang with the combined rates of Knight and Stuckey.
Over at Detroit Bad Boys, they are excited about Knight getting the chance to play off-the-ball while Calderon works to set up optimum opportunities for players in the Pistons' offense:
I don't think I'm overstating it when I say that Calderon is going to open a lot of eyes pretty quickly in Detroit. Despite not having a real point guard on their roster, the Pistons had managed a mediocre offensive output this season. They now have a pass-first point guard that is going to make everyone else's job easier and their game's better. Calderon will put players in spots to be successful, particularly the Pistons' big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond on pick-and-rolls and Singler and Jerebko on basket cuts and hustle plays.
Calderon is not a cure-all for the Pistons, but his presence will provide the perfect opportunity for the front office to get a good look at the scoring potential of Knight, the advanced pick-and-roll games of Monroe and Drummond and even the viability of Stuckey as a bench performer. Don't be surprised if the offense out in Detroit instantly improves with Calderon now on board.