|31 January 2013|
EUROPEANS IN THE NBA
|"The fans have been with me from Day 1. It's tough," Jose Calderon is leaving Toronto after almost eight years|
Spanish point guard Jose Calderon arrived in Atlanta on Wednesday night, to play with the Toronto Raptors against the Hawks in a quite run-of-the-mill NBA Regular Season game.
Only once the team reached the locker rooms of Philips Arena, in the capital of the US state of Georgia, Calderon was told he no longer needed to suit up.
To be more precise, he could not do so ever again, because he was no longer a Raptor.
The Spaniard was involved in a three-way trade that was at the moment being finalised and in fact, when the media asked him about it outside the locker room of his now former team-mates, he was still not entirely sure which city and team would be his next destination.
"It's been my home for eight years," he said of Toronto though.
Calderon joined the Canadian club in 2005, immediately after leaving Tau Vitoria (Caja Laboral).
"I've done everything possible for this team. It's tough.
"The fans have been with me since Day 1. It's tough."
By the time the playmaker had reached Atlanta airport, he knew of course what the next team in his NBA career would be.
As of Thursday, he is a player on the team that was nicknamed 'Bad Boys' in the late '80s, the Detroit Pistons.
As part of the three-team deal, former USA international Rudy Gay and Iranian Hamed Haddadi left the Memphis Grizzlies, of Marc Gasol, to join Toronto.
|Will have to do without Calderon's sweet passing from now on: Jonas Valanciunas |
The Canadians meanwhile gave a second-round draft pick to Memphis, who also got Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye from Detroit.
The 31-year-old Calderon was averaging 11.1 points and 7.4 assists this season for the Raptors, who are in 11th place in the Eastern Conference; the Pistons are just one win ahead, with a 17-29 record.
The playmaker leaves one of the most 'European-oriented' franchises in the Raptors, and the company of Italy's Andrea Bargnani and Lithuania's Linas Kleiza and Jonas Valanciunas.
He joins however Jonas Jerebko of Sweden and Viacheslav Kravtsov of Ukraine on the Pistons, although both have been struggling for form and playing time this season.
Calderon, who met with new new Spain coach Juan Orenga and former team-mate Jorge Garbajosa just at the weekend in Toronto, to discuss his participation at the upcoming EuroBasket, will be a free-agent in the summer and might well move again, even before the show-piece event in Slovenia.
However, he will have in the meantime had the pleasure to wear the same jersey as the 'Bad Boys' of Isaiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman, who famously established a new defensive style in the NBA en route to their 1989 and 1990 titles.