Calderon: On Becoming a Piston

After 8 years in one place, Calderon happy to be with a team that wanted him

Jose Calderon is happy to be coming to a team that really wants him.
Jose Calderon is happy to be coming to a team that really wants him.
Issac Baldizon (NBAE/Getty)
Jose Calderon knows Joe Dumars had tried to trade for him in the past, so he understands he comes to the Pistons for reasons that go beyond his status as a player with an expiring contract. And that’s a big first step in feeling at home in new surroundings after spending his entire NBA career in Toronto.

“It’s kind of like a double side,” Calderon said after Friday’s shootaround. “I was kind of sad with eight years in the same place, working with a lot of people for all those years, so that’s the sad part. Weird feeling, never had it before. But I’m excited. I’m really happy to be here. I know Detroit has tried to trade for me for a while, so I’m really happy to be in a situation with a team that really wants you and I’m really happy to start a new part of my career – really happy.”

Calderon drove from Toronto to Detroit on Thursday, getting grilled by a U.S. Customs agent at the border. Dumars told the story Friday, talking about the suspicion with which Calderon felt he was being subjected to as the process dragged on and he explained his status as a Spanish citizen working in Canada but having been traded to a United States-based basketball team.

At the end of the conversation, the agent dropped the formalities and asked Calderon, “Do you think you can make up the five games in the standings and get to the playoffs?”

Visa issues will prevent Calderon from playing for the Pistons immediately, likely ruling him out not just for tonight’s game with Cleveland but for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pistons might get Calderon in time for Monday’s game at New York.

“Hopefully, as soon as possible,” Calderon said. “Hopefully, it’s quick.”

One more thing Calderon believes will be quick: feeling at home running Lawrence Frank’s offense. I asked him for his impressions on the team, particularly the young talent.

“We were talking about that last night with the guys in the office and Coach,” he said. “We’ve played against them a lot of times, so there’s a lot of talent on the team, there’s a lot of guys who can really play. The young guys are developing. (Andre) Drummond is having a great, great year. I think it’s a big surprise for everybody to develop this quick. There’s a little bit of everything on this team, so that’s good. Complete players.

“We’ll figure out a way to fit me in and help everybody. That’s what I do as a point guard – try to get everybody involved in the game, try to get them in the right positions and get the ball at the right time. I just need a few practices and games and we’ll be good.”

Calderon’s elite playmaking ability means he’ll be running the offense the vast majority of the time he’s on the floor – Frank has already declared he’ll start, along with Knight, as soon as he’s cleared to play – but it’s something that doesn’t seem so remarkable to him.

“I’m a point guard – I should be able to (make his teammates better),” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to shoot the ball, but I think you have to make sure your guys get involved, everybody gets the ball where they feel comfortable getting that ball. It’s a team sport. You’re not going to win by yourself. There are only one or two Kobes or LeBrons. At the end of the day, it’s about team effort, team. That’s what I try to get – get everybody involved and do the right things. As soon as I start knowing where everybody feels comfortable, it will be easy to play out there.”

While the whirlwind of the past 48 hours has barely given Calderon enough time to get up to speed with the Pistons’ present, he acknowledges he and the organization will have decisions to make in July when he becomes a free agent.

“I’m never going to close any doors,” he said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m a free agent at the end of summer. We’ll see. For right now – it’s only been two days – it’s been great. It’s always good when joining the players, they really want you. That makes a huge difference. It’s not just going in a trade or because of an expiring contract, for sure.”