Since the NBA Draft, things have changed a bit for the Hawks. The team selected their potential “point guard of the future” in Dennis Schroeder and, just days after that pick, the #1 free agent target on the market (Chris Paul) agreed to stay put in Los Angeles. As a result, the Hawks’ point guard situation is very much in the air, and the options are fairly limited for 2013-2014.
The “internal” option of re-signing Jeff Teague is probably the “most likely” option at this stage. The Hawks own his restricted free agent rights, and as such, can match any offer sheet he would sign with another team. For the moment, however, let’s pretend as if either a) Teague signs for too much money, or b) Danny Ferry decides it is better to part ways with Teague. I don’t know either of those to be true (yet), but let’s move on from there. The question becomes:
Who is left?
I can’t see a scenario in which Ferry and Budenholzer enter the season without a starting-caliber point guard, as Schroeder is so raw at this stage that it is possible that he could be stashed. With that in mind, there is one name that is currently shining off of the page for me, and that is Jose Calderon.
Calderon is 31 years old, and the former Raptor is the kind of player who would be perfect in a “hold the fort” type of role while Schroeder is maturing. He’s extremely efficient, with career shooting percentages of 48% FG, 40% 3-point, and 88% FT, and he’s a great assist man as well. He averaged 7.1 assists per game last year in under 30 minutes a night, and the fact that he can produce at that level with less than 2 turnovers a game is very encouraging as well.
Before you ask, there is a glaring weakness to Calderon’s game, and that is on the defensive end. It’s the single reason why he isn’t a top 15-to-20 point guard in the league, and he frankly doesn’t have the lateral quickness (especially at this stage in his career) to stay in front of starting-caliber guards. However, he does present good size/length from the PG spot at 6’3, and as a result, playing him with Lou Williams wouldn’t be the disaster that you might imagine on the defensive end.
One more attractive piece of the Calderon puzzle is the relative lack of money that would be needed to secure his services. ESPN’s Amin Elhassan estimates that Calderon could be had for approximately 3 years and $9.4 million total, and even if that number jumped north to $4-5 million per season, that would be an incredible value in my estimation.
There is certainly concern about giving a less-than-durable player like Calderon a 3-year contract, but at that modest level of money, it wouldn’t be a disaster if he were to go down with injury. It remains to be seen whether Schroeder will even be cast in a backup role this season (I repeat: very much up in the air), but in the meantime, the Hawks are going to need a steadying force at the point, and Calderon fits the bill perfectly.
There is some buzz about Atlanta interest in Calderon, and our friends at FanSided’s front page referenced the Hawks as a team that could have Calderon in their sights. It takes two sides to get a deal done in the NBA, and I haven’t seen or heard a word concerning Calderon’s own interests, but money talks, and if the Hawks need to only go to about $5 million per year for his services, I would be completely on board with that move as a quality, short-term fix at the point guard position.