GREENSBORO, N.C. — Yes way, Jose.
After missing the Dallas Mavericks’ first four preseason contests due to a strained left hamstring, projected starting point guard Jose Calderon will finally make his long-awaited exhibition debut Saturday night as his team takes on the Charlotte Bobcats in Greensboro, N.C.
Calderon, who starred for the Spanish National Team this summer during the Eurobasket tournament, shouldn’t run into any conditioning concerns as he steps back into action. Still, with just four preseason outings left on the schedule for the 32-year-old veteran to establish chemistry with his new teammates, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle will welcome Calderon into the rotation with a suitable amount of playing time.
“We’re not going to play him full-game minutes like that, but we’d like to get him a good run and get his legs going and get his rhythm going,” Carlisle said following Friday’s team practice in Dallas. “And I don’t think there’s going to be an issue with his conditioning, because he’s been playing a lot over a long-term basis, so this period of time is probably a good rest period for him as much as anything.”
The return of the eight-year NBA veteran should only boost the Mavericks’ lineup as the 6-foot-3 floor general joins forces with fellow newcomer Monta Ellis in the backcourt.
Ellis has pleasantly surprised his new team while emerging as the Mavs’ primary playmaker on the offensive end of the floor, proving to be much more than just a lethal scoring threat to pair with 11-time All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki while averaging 7.3 assists to go along with 13.3 points on 54.3 percent shooting in 25.8 minutes an outing in exhibition play. And it’s Ellis’ ability to create for his teammates that has Mavericks owner Mark Cuban giddy for the upcoming season.
“Well, we knew he was a good passer. We didn’t know how good of a passer,” Cuban said of the offseason addition of Ellis. “Obviously, he’s surprised a lot of people. … We knew he was a good passer and everybody looked at his overall numbers and what they meant. When you looked at him when it was the ball in his hands, he made good things happen, but I didn’t realize how good a passer he was. And I think now, with so many weapons around him, he’s been incredibly unselfish. You know, that Monta is amazing.
“We knew that he was a good passer and we knew that when he had the ball in his hands with the right pieces around him he was really effective, but I don’t think there’s any question he’s a better passer than what we expected and he’s obviously a willing passer. And again, it just depends on what you put around him. If you go back to his early Golden State days, he had great chemistry with [Brandan] Wright before B-Wright got hurt. He didn’t have quite the weapons after that around him, but I think now he’s got a lot of weapons and he’s taking advantage of it.”
The cat-quick Ellis will have one more weapon at his disposal with Calderon set to return to the lineup, as the Mavericks (2-2) add another dimension to their offensive attack.
In addition to averaging 11.3 points and 7.1 assists while splitting time with Toronto and Detroit last season, Calderon also showed an ability to play off the ball while connecting on a league-best 46.1 percent from behind the 3-point line. And according to Carlisle, Calderon’s ability to create for others while also stretching the court should mesh perfectly with Ellis’ attributes.
“My vision of [Calderon’s] role hasn’t changed,” the coach declared. “He’s going to handle the ball a lot and Monta is going to handle the ball a lot, too. And when Monta handles, Jose is as good a spot-up guy as there is in this league, based on his numbers last year.”
Note: The Mavericks return to action Saturday night on the road in Greensboro, N.C. for a matchup against the Charlotte Bobcats (3-2). The game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. CT.
The team returns to American Airlines Center Oct. 23 against the Atlanta Hawks. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.