While the young Toronto Raptors still struggle to find consistent victories, one of the oldest players on the team has the patience to wait for better days.
The 29-year-old Jose Calderon, who currently has a PER of 16.7 and averages 11.4 points and 10.5 assists per 36 minutes, already knew that it wouldn't be easy following the departure of Chris Bosh and the only way get through it is to keep working.
RealGM sat down with Calderon to talk about the Raptors, his Spanish national team and EuroBasket 2011 this summer.
RealGM: First of all, did you expect that this rebuilding year would be so tough?
Calderon: No, itís not tough. We are losing some games, but we knew that itís going to be hard. Still, we had some injuries like (Linas) Kleiza and Reggie Evans at the beginning and also (Leandro) Barbosa was out for month. We could have more wins, but still we have to keep working.
RealGM: After the draw of EuroBasket 2011, it became known that your NT will have to face teams like Lithuania, Turkey and Great Britain. How do you evaluate your group in EuroBasket?
Calderon: I donít like to talk about it as there is plenty of time until EuroBasket starts. Itís going to be a tough group, thatís for sure but EuroBasket is always tough. There are more teams to play [this year]. You never know what is better, to have a tough group in the beginning and maybe later it will be a little bit easier, but thereís nothing easy anymore. We will be ready for that and I think itís going to be fun to play in Lithuania, especially with what they did last year in the Worlds. I hope everybody will have fun and will be excited.
RealGM: Do you think EuroBasket home team Lithuania is still dangerous even without their leader Linas Kleiza?
Calderon: Yeah, for sure. They play at home. You always have more chances to win when you play at home.
RealGM: Do you keep in touch and talk about the national team with other Spanish NBA players?
Calderon: Not really. Itís still a long way to go. Itís tough for us in the NBA because maybe weíll have a lockout. We donít know whatís going to happen. We wait and concentrate on our seasons. We donít think about Spanish basketball, but I think everybody will there.
RealGM: Talk about Spanish national team goals in EuroBasket, is it the same goal as always - winning the gold?
Calderon: Why not? I think every team plays only for cup. I think Lithuania when they will start the championship they will play for gold. If you come and donít play for gold, thereís no sense like ďOK, Iím going to play for being in Top 8Ē. Last year we couldnít go all the way and hopefully this year we can do it. There are a lot of good teams and everybody can beat you in EuroBasket, there are no easy games. But we are going to go out there and see what we can do.
RealGM: How difficult is it to play in the NBA and international tournament in the same season? You donít have any time to rest.
Calderon: I know, that is the tough part. After you finish EuroBasket you have to go back again to the NBA and thatís why some of the guys sometimes needs to get some rest during the summer. Their body cannot hold so many games. Anyway, I think that you still have some time to rest and take care of your body. Weíll be OK and weíll be there for EuroBasket.
RealGM: The Raptors have a lot of international players on their roster. Do you think it affects the teamís results as they come to training camp already tired?
Calderon: No, I donít think so. You have training camp and you are ready. Iíve been doing it for six seasons.
RealGM: What about the lockout possibility, is there any chance to see you next year in Europe?
Calderon: Weíll see what happens. There still is no lockout yet. Weíll have to wait until July and hopefully the agreement will be reached. Itís not good to make any decisions right now. Now, Iím only thinking about the Raptors.