No NBA 'What ifs' for Cavs' Calderon, Warrior for a day

by Jim SLATER
Jose Calderon a three-time Olympic medalist for Spain, is trying to help the Cleveland Cavaliers claim their second title in three seasons and deny his brief-teammate Warriors their third in four years

Spanish guard Jose Calderon has finally reached the NBA Finals with Cleveland at age 36, a year after having been with the champion Golden State Warriors, if only for a day.

Calderon, a three-time Olympic medalist for Spain, is trying to help the Cleveland Cavaliers claim their second title in three seasons and deny his brief-teammate Warriors their third in four years in the fourth consecutive best-of-seven title showdown between the clubs.

"I never like to think back and say what if," Calderon said. "I think that is a stat you can't control, and I couldn't control what happened."

Calderon's roundabout journey to his first finals began in Spain, where he grew up watching his father play for Doncel La Serena. He went on to play for four Spanish clubs before signing with the NBA's Toronto Raptors in 2005.

In 7 1/2 seasons with the Raptors, Calderon became a standout for the Canadian club, setting an NBA record by sinking 98.1 percent of his free throws in the 2008-09 season, when he averaged an NBA career-best 12.8 points a game.

Calderon became a journeyman over the past six seasons, playing for Detroit, Dallas, New York, the Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta and finally joining the Cavaliers as a free agent signing last July.

But his most interesting stint lasted ever-so briefly between the Lakers and Atlanta when he spent two hours with the Warriors.

After being released by the Lakers in February 2017, Calderon appeared set to join the Warriors, ready for a reserve role behind sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

But Golden State star forward Kevin Durant suffered a knee injury that appeared serious and suddenly the Warriors wanted a forward as a precaution.

On March 1, the Warriors made good their word to sign Calderon only to release him two hours later, paying him the $415,000 he would have received for playing the rest of the campaign, which would see Durant return and Golden State beat Cleveland in the NBA Finals.

Calderon would instead finish the season with Atlanta, which lost in the first round of the playoffs, before signing with the Cavaliers last July.

"It was great fit. Both parts did our best to make it work," Calderon said.

"That night when I was ready to travel, Kevin Durant got injured, and I understood they needed a bigger guy, and it's what it was.

"But because of that, I went to Atlanta, I played minutes. Maybe those minutes gave me the opportunity for Cleveland to sign me. You never know what happened. It could be great."

Instead of pondering the title he didn't win, Calderon is expected about the one he might yet get with Cleveland.

"We maybe could be talking in a different way right now, but it is what it is." he said.

"It's my first finals. I'm trying to enjoy this experience and give everything I have for my team, staying ready if my name is called."

Jose Calderon a three-time Olympic medalist for Spain, is trying to help the Cleveland Cavaliers claim their second title in three seasons and deny his brief-teammate Warriors their third in four years