Jose Manuel Calderon: "We're not that far away"

Jose Manuel Calderon: "We're not that far away"


Jose Manuel Calderon: "We're not that far away"

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How’s been your life ever since your season with the Raptors came to an end?

Jose Manuel Calderon: The first part, just resting. From then on, trying to recover and getting in shape to be at 100 percent for the coming season.

How’s the leg feeling?

JMC: Feeling better. I’m doing a little bit more every day. Not doing an awful lot, but’s looking good. Little by little, it seems like everything is moving forward.

The season came to an end early for you and the Raptors. What do you think are the main reasons the team took a step back?

JMC: I think we were doing well, but there were several things… We changed the coach. Jermaine O’Neal didn’t adjust as well and we were hoping. He was a player too similar to Chris Bosh. They did similar things and it’s like Chris and Jermaine canceled each other out. After that, there was always something. My injury, Chris’ injury… Every time it looked like we were going to be on a roll, something happened that didn’t allow us to finish off the work. At the end of the season, when Shawn Marion came, that’s when we started to play the way we wanted, more up-tempo, when everybody was 100 percent physically… That’s when we proved we’re not that far away. We beat very good teams and we can be up there with them. We just have to make a few changes and some of them are under way. If we do that, we can fight with everybody.

What do you think of the moves Toronto is trying to make?

JMC: So far, so good. Let’s see what happens in the end. There’s a lot of work to be done still. It all started with the Kapono-for-Evans trade, which gave us a physical presence in the paint that we were probably lacking. Now, let’s wait and see what else we can get.

What’s your opinion about Hedo Turkoglu and David Lee, the two main players Toronto is reportedly pursuing?

JMC: Well, both are very, very interesting players. With any of those, the team will be very competitive. Let’s see which of them we’re able to land. We have a little bit of economic flexibility to sign players of maximum quality. Like I said, I think we are very close. This could be a thrilling project after the disappointment of last season. We could soon be doing very interesting things because the organization, the city and the people is fully behind the team.

How do you and your teammates cope with the uncertainty on Chris Bosh’s future and the fact that he’s asked all the time about 2010?

JMC: Well, it’s stuff that’s always going to be around. The media is always focused on things like these. It’s one of the negative things this sport has. You make friends, but at the end of the day we all change teams for one reason or another. You just have to wait and see what happens. Chris has been here with me at my campus (Campus Jose Manuel Calderon – Marca Extremadura). He’s a great friend. We all have to focus on the present, get ready for next season and have a good year together.

You are close, right? Is he your best friend on the team?

JMC: It’s one of my best friends. I’ve always gotten along well with pretty much everybody. Anthony Parker is a great friend too. With Chris, it was special to bring a player that has been to the All-Star Game so many times, that has a golden medal at the Olympics… He’s been with me four years, which is longer than anybody else. I thought it was great to have him around the kids in Caceres and Extremadura. It’s been real, real special.

From being around him, you have a hunch about what his decision is going to be?

JMC: Like I said, we never talk about that. We just focus on next season, that we have to be ready, that we know what mistakes we made last season and we want to do good this year. It’s the same with me: I just go year by year.

About the Spanish National Team… When exactly did you decide to pass on playing at the Eurobasket?

JMC: I had a few tests and the leg wasn’t feeling as well as I was hoping after all the problems I had gone through previously. That’s when I saw my body was letting me know that I needed to rest and that I needed to take care of myself. I have to pass on this Eurobasket no matter how much I want to take part in it. There’ll be more opportunities in future tournaments.

So passing on the tournament is a decision you made on your own, not influenced in any way by the Raptors?

JMC: No, they found out at the same time as the Spanish Federation. When we had the exit interviews, everything was up in the air (because the tournament was very late in the summer) and I told them I would confirm if I was going to play or not. I wanted to go through the tests, because I’ve had a pretty tough year, and I made the decision after that.

Your last game with Spain was at the Olympics. Had you been able to play at the final, do you think you would have beaten Team USA?

JMC: (Laughs) Who knows? There’s always ifs like that. We may have won or maybe we lose by a bigger margin. You never know. Let’s see if we can claim revenge next year at the World Championship or another Olympic Games.

Finally, what’s your take on the messy Ricky Rubio situation?

JMC: I just want to see it come to and end when he decides where he wants to play and all the stuff around him stops. That’s what he deserves. It’s his decision and he knows if he’s ready or not to go to the NBA better than anybody else.

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