3:40pm Eastern 

So the Raptors are switching up the starting line up on a couple of fronts and one of the moves was instigated or initiated by the man who will now find himself on the bench.

Wow.

These kind of situations simply don’t happen in professional sports.  They’re very rare.  But then again, Jose Calderon is a rare breed to begin with.

Calderon sat down with Bryan Colangelo and Sam Mitchell on Tuesday and basically said (I’m paraphrasing / speculating ) … ‘Let TJ start.  Move me back to the bench.  We’ve got to find a way to get TJ going and it’s clear that he just hasn’t had ‘it’ as a back-up.  Let’s go back to the way it was – for the betterment of the team – and see if we can get things back on track for the final 12 games of the season’.

Colangelo and Mitchell agreed … and that was that.  Effective immediately, TJ Ford will be reinserted into the Raptors starting line up.  Calderon will return to his back-up role; a job he had when the season began and throughout last season as well.

While he was outstanding for most of his time as a starter (struggling a bit over the last couple of weeks (like the entire team has)), Calderon has proven time and time again that he can be effective in either role.  He seems just as comfortable with the 2ND unit as he does with the starters.  But the same can’t be said for Ford.  When TJ finally returned after missing 24 games, he never really seemed to adjust to his back-up role.  He seemed confused at the best of times; struggling with when to be a distributor and facilitator … and when to be an attacker and dominator. 

Ford was, arguably, the best Raptor on the floor for the first month of the season.  Before he got hammered by Al Horford in Atlanta – and contemplated retirement – Ford was playing some of the best ball of his career.  And he was coming off a hugely-successful 2006-07 campaign as well … when he and Chris Bosh led the Raptors to a franchise-high 47 wins and the Raptors first-ever Atlantic Division Championship.  In returning to the starting line up, the hope is that Ford can find that magic touch again and finally return to form.

Ford isn’t the only change though.  Rasho Nesterovic will be back in the starting unit … replacing Andrea Bargnani.  As I wrote the other day, Bargnani has regressed this season.  If you’re not moving forward – even if you’re simply standing still – you’re regressing in my eyes.  However, I still believe Bargnani can be a special player.  His growth process may simply take longer than others.  So why not allow the guy to take those baby steps off the bench as opposed to ‘in the fire’ as a starter?

Nesterovic provides the Raptors with a lot of size, solid rebounding and defence, and veteran experience that Toronto could use in their final 12 games and into the post-season (no matter who they face).  His presence amongst the starters allows Bargnani to come in against 2ND unit guys now – like he did last year.  If Bargnani comes in and he’s hot … you stick with him.  If not, you know you always have Rasho to go back to … and options like Kris Humphries as well.

Some folks may be critical of these moves – especially Ford going in for Calderon – but clearly something had to be done.  After losing 7 of their last 8 and suffering through a TERRIBLE month of March, a shake-up was needed.  While there were rumblings about making a move with Jamario Moon (for Carlos Delfino), the rookie swingman has answered his critics with some outstanding play – especially on the glass – over the past week or two.  Thus, the most obvious place to make a change was at the point – where you have a solid 1-2 punch – or at the center spot … where you have a vet (Rasho) who is ready to go whenever he’s needed.

Best case scenario … this change ignites the Raps and they finish their final 12 games on a high note and they have momentum going into the post-season. 

Worst case scenario … TJ still doesn’t break out of his funk and Mitchell is forced to go back to Calderon again. 

We’ll see how it all plays out … beginning with the Pistons and Raptors tonight at 7pm on the FAN.

E. Smith

———-

Your comments are always welcome below, and you can feel free to email me anytime as well.

11 Responses to “Class Act”
  1. 1.

    TJ would never do that for Jose. His ego is too big.

    - ad
  2. 2.

    Agree 100 %

    - D12
  3. 3.

    And realistically if the Raps have a 1st round exit again this year what are Mitchells chances of staying? – I’d say slim

    - D12
  4. 4.

    A shakeup at PG only makes sense if the guy being replaced is playing poorly. In this case, Calderon was playing better than Ford – so how can that now be changed. Also, why would you reduce Calderon’s minutes now and increase those of Ford when Calderon has played better. Management and the coaching staff should have said no to this idea. This makes no sense at all.

    The fact of the matter is the team was playing poorly but most of the recent losses can be chalked up to Bosh’s absence and some horrendous defense. It wasn’t the offense that has been hurting this team.

    Now the starting unit goes from having 3 three point shooters to one (Parker) and the backup unit will have 4 three point shooters (Calderon, Bargnani, Kapono and Delfino). That doesn’t make any sense and there is no balance.

    Eric, any comments?

    - Robert Krizman
  5. 5.

    I’m not sure what more I can say, Robert … that I haven’t already said or written. But if Jose suggested/offered it … then … I say … go for it.

    If you’ve lost 7 of 8 and you’re in a downward spiral … you’ve got to try SOMETHING. So, why not.

    Plus, there’s no saying you don’t go back to Jose as the starter if this shake-up / experiment doesn’t work out.

    - E. Smith
  6. 6.

    Personally, I think it’s a good idea to give this a try, but most importantly, this shows the type of character Jose has as a person.

    This comes out of the bloom. props to Jose for doing that. It takes a lot to do sacrifice something like that for possibly the better.

    in all honesty though, even though a shak-up is needed, i dont think it will work out for the better.

    -Behzad-

    - Behzad
  7. 7.

    Calderon – Class,Leader,Team Player,Heart, what Calderon did is bigger than people think. Players just dont do that kind of stuff in a league Full of Ego’s.Would Ford do it for Jose, we all know that answer. Calderon in that 4th Q, was out there playing Tenacious D, taking charges all up on Billups. I respect Calderon to the fullest, im Proud to watch him RUN this TEAM. Calderon stepped down the chemistry was suffering on this team,he knew it and so did everyone else in that locker room. He sacrificed himself, for the Team to Win, he checked his Ego at the Door. In the end a quote from Jose, yes i have an Ego, but i dont play for Jose Calderon, i play for a Team the Toronto Raptors. Colangelo you know what you got to do now..

    - rosco
  8. 8.

    Jose is a class act the problem with TJ is his giant ego that prevents him from comeing off the bench.
    This seals it he should be dealt after the season so that Jose can be the man.

    - Jim
  9. 9.

    Who is the MVP on this Raptor team?
    - the one who is willing to sacrifice his starting position for the greater good of the team
    - the one who can play with anyone on the team (whether it is first unit or second unit) and make everyone around him better
    - the one who can control the tempo of the game and at a long stretch in this season, has a league leading turn over vs assist ratio!
    - the one who hands out drinks to everyone in the locker room during half-time
    - the one who have the heart to fight through tough screen and bigger player and actually looked angry and fire-up when he got knock onto the floor
    - the one who has the heart to win

    Who else? Jose Calderon is my hero and I am proud to wear the red No.8 t-shirt to every raptors game!

    - gil_cdn
  10. 10.

    I really have had enough of TJ Ford and his me-first attitude. Mr. Colangelo please sign Jose to a long-term contract and deal TJ for the best deal you can get. Players like Jose Calderon come along only so often and when you have a player so talented and selfless you do anything in your power to keep him. Get a good backup point guard next year and everyone lives happily ever after.

    - David Rubinstein
  11. 11.

    I like David have had it with TJ Ford.
    I would be more than happy if the raptors parted ways with him.

    This class move on the part of Jose underscores the difference between the 2 of them.

    Ford had sulked ever since his return.

    Keep Jose and get a back up next year.

    - Sue
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