Posted July 07, 2013

Report: Jose Calderon agrees to four-year, $28 million deal with Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks, Jose Calderon
Dallas agreed to a long-term deal to land Jose Calderon in free agency. (Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Dallas agreed to a long-term deal to land Jose Calderon in free agency. (Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Since winning the NBA title in 2011, Dallas has let valued contributors walk in free agency and forsaken the acquisition of any long-term contracts with the intent of landing another star to pair with Dirk Nowitzki — a sensible aim that demanded the acceptance of sizable risk.

That effort began with an attempt to nab Chris Paul, who was traded to and then spoken for by a Clippers front office that surrounded him with talent and a suitable coach. Deron Williams also considered the Mavericks when he hit free agency in 2012, but he opted to sign a maximum deal with the Nets instead. And most recently, Dwight Howard, too, passed on the chance to come to Dallas, leaving the Mavs with a slim roster and a bundle of questions as they sort through the offseason.

It was a series of tough breaks for a team that dissolved a playoff core for a chance to chase that star trio. And those misses in free agency have led the Mavs to a subsequent move that is somehow both perfectly in character and yet completely contrary to the team’s recent operations.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Mavs have agreed to a four-year, $28 million deal with 32-year-old point guard Jose Calderon. This is one of the few occasions in the last two years that Dallas has acquired a player on a multi-year deal, and in that regard it signifies a stark departure from the dry-power doctrine that has led the Mavs to pile up one-year contracts in order to angle for the next big fish.

Still, Calderon has been an often-rumored target for Dallas on the basis of his frequent availability in past seasons and a playmaking style that would work beautifully in an offense built around Nowitzki. Other teams might bemoan Calderon’s inability to penetrate, but that’s less of a concern for Dallas. The Mavs will have a pair of change-of-pace, basket-attacking guards in rookies Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel, and as a counterpoint they can more generally rely on a point guard in Calderon who’s about as trusty as ball handlers come.

That’s a huge relief for a team that was pained by Darren Collison’s decision making and O.J. Mayo’s untimely mistakes last season. Calderon can be trusted to get the Mavs into their offense on a consistent basis, lowering Rick Carlisle’s stress level. He won’t solve all of Dallas’ problems (and frankly, we don’t even know what those problems might be, given the Mavs’ bare-bones roster), but he presents a huge passing improvement for a team that first employed Derek Fisher and later Mike James out of desperation last season.

Calderon will make the Mavs better, and his contract likely will be of little consequence as a short-term cap hit, given how much room Dallas will have as soon as next summer. But there’s only so much room to wiggle around the fact that the last two seasons of this deal could prove to be brutal for the Mavs if they’re fully guaranteed — a quirk of contract language that we don’t yet know.

Two years from now, Calderon could well regress to the point of being a marginal player, while commanding a substantial salary and bearing little value as a trade asset. This isn’t the kind of contract that will smother the Mavs with its weight, but it seems as though it could eventually prove to be problematic if Calderon’s effectiveness begins to taper off. That looming possibility may simply be the cost of adding an immediately helpful player to a fairly empty roster, though it should be noted that Dallas can minimize any potential cap damage from Calderon’s drop-off by releasing him and exercising the stretch provision. Not a preferable outcome, to be sure, but a means of managing what might come.

Grade: B- if Calderon’s deal is fully guaranteed, with room for grade adjustment if it’s not. Dallas should definitely be happy to have a more dependable ball handler to facilitate things in place of Collison and James (to say nothing of Calderon’s terrific outside shooting). But the deal isn’t preferable in its length and might be a bit too rich per year, given Calderon’s worrisome defense.

2 comments
Azeron
Azeron

Horrible deal.  Cuban is behaving like a woman who marries the rebound guy after being dumped by the love of her life.  You're going to regret this move big time.  It's too late to go back and sign Tyson Chandler to the deal he wanted.  Don't compound that idiocy by making moves like this one.  Stop and at lease give it another go in 2014 before pissing all your cap flexibility away.

CoL_70
CoL_70

Very good points, both for and against the deal. You've touched pretty much everything.

I'm big fan of Calderon, love his playmaking, his shooting, and his pass-first mentality and Dirk & Carlisle will have a lot of fun with him. The Pick N Pops with Dirk will be deadly, and beautiful.

However he's slow & one of the most atrocious defenders in the league & is now the second piece of a team  built around a notoriously bad, slow defender.

His contract is an albatross, an absolute, horrible albatross that despite the fit shouldn't be described as anything but the pinnacle of Panic moves. Who were the Mavs competing against? Was there a line willing to throw 4 years and nearly 30M to 32yr old Calderon?

That, and you accurately mentioning that this move feels like a complete departure, a 180º turn from the ideology Mavs have been preaching for the last 4 years, is why I agree with your points but completely disagree with the Grade.

If letting Tyson Chandler walk in 2011 was a "very good, sound move" because you should take risks instead of trying to be the 4th seed, then how can commiting 28M/long term to a 32yr B-list point guard to play next to a washed up, older Dirk be anything but a terrible move?

In the end it feels like Mavs management can't do no wrong, I dont' see how 4th seed in 2011 is bad, but 7-11th seed in 2013, after 2 atrocious seasons is better.This move guarantees (barring injuries) that regardless of anything else they add, Mavs won't get one of the top lottery picks, but won't be anything more than a first round and out either, all while compromises future cap space, and the ability to draw players to Dallas.  (If they didn't want to join Dirk and unlimited Cap space, will playing next 36 year old Dirk "on discount" and 33 yr old Calderon attract anyone next season? Anyone at all?)

"Financial Flexibility" failed, Mavs can still salvage something, try to tank, it's not so hard to do considering the roster was empty, but Cuban is too stubborn to let go and admit he failed, instead he is driving to that water-treading treadmill of mediocrity that he so often considered the absolute worst place in basketball, that was, of course, before the options were admitting defeat or screwing up the Mavs. And he chose the latter.

Getting B-lister #2, which should happen really soon, and by all records could be as risky as paying someone that refuses to be tested or tryout (& no one knows if he'll play again) will cement our place in mediocrity, far away from contending, and far away for the chance at rebuilding (a chance that would imply admitting defeat, so it won't even be considered).

This is why I can't grasp how Calderon's contract, all things considered, would be anything other than terrible, specially to those that preferred "Taking the gamble and blowing up instead of keeping an older team with (possibly, but not definitely) less upside".

But I guess I respectfully agree with Kirk Henderson's point on twitter:

"I'm really not trying to be argumentative, but all Dallas ppl think its a good move. Everyone else thinks its a joke."