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Everybody wondered why the Cleveland Cavaliers bothered to sign Jose Calderon in the first place.
Now, everybody wonders why it took Cavs coach Tyronn Lue so long to play him.
Everybody can be fickle that way, and the media often leads the charge. As for Calderon, he’s been a consistent, steadying force for a team that has won 16 of 17 heading into Saturday’s home game against the Utah Jazz.
“He doesn’t turn the ball over. That’s great to have at the start of your offense,” Cavs star LeBron James said. “You add that basketball IQ, how well he takes care of the ball and how well he shoots the ball, and he will give up his body.
“He’s a true professional. That’s what we have around here — guys that show up. No matter when their number is called, they’re ready to go. His number has been called for quite a while now. It’s great to have him, that’s for sure.”
Calderon, 36, was the first free-agent signee of the Koby Altman era. Altman took over as Cavs general manager in July. The signing was a head-scratcher at the time, as Calderon was hardly considered a hot commodity.
But today, he’s an important contributor on the East’s hottest team, and that’s all that really matters.
Calderon runs the offense, makes perimeter shots and as James said, takes care of the ball. In the previous four games, Calderon is a combined 12-of-18 on 3-pointers.
He scored 17 points and outplayed hyped Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball during the Cavs’ 121-112 win Thursday.
“He’s always been a safety valve for a team,” said Cavs guard Dwyane Wade. “I used to hate when we played against him because he never turned the ball over, he never made risky passes. As he’s been showing lately, he can knock open shots down.”
It hasn’t always been this way for Calderon and the Cavs (21-8). He rode the bench behind Derrrick Rose (now injured), Wade and Iman Shumpert — as each got a shot at point guard before Calderon. Lue even used James at the spot and kept Calderon in the role of benchwarming towel-waver.
So, what took so long to give Calderon a real shot?
Lue answered by saying he wanted to “play the guys that were here first, who had been here the last three or four years, and we just had to figure it out.”
He added, “I always told (Calderon) to stay ready and that’s what true professionals do.”
Calderon has now played in 20 of the Cavs’ first 29 games, starting 14. All the while, he has made a strong case to be the first point guard off the bench once presumed-starter Isaiah Thomas is ready to play.
Everybody thought that day would never come.
But sometimes, everybody is wrong.