March 28, 2013 at 10:33 am

Terry Foster

Pistons need to commit to Jose Calderon as leader

Pistons point guard Jose Calderon, driving around Gerald Wallace, knows how to make things happen. Heĺs averaging 7.2 assists. (Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News)

Auburn Hills The Pistons want to keep point guard Jose Calderon beyond this season and should give him the keys to the car if they do so.

He is exactly what the team needs because he is a stabilizing point guard whose main focus is to make teammates better. And the Pistons have a shot because Calderon, a free agent after this season, said competing for a championship, at least short term, is not a top priority for him.

Of course he'd love to be in the NBA Finals next season, but it's not a deal-breaker in staying with a team that took a step backward this season. It's obvious the Pistons won't win an NBA title in the next couple seasons. They need more talent and a leader to guide it. At age 31, Calderon might be willing to be that leader.

"Aah, yes and no," Calderon said when asked if winning a championship was a priority for him. "It just won't be that. There are a lot of things you got to look at, for sure."

Calderon said he has not made a decision about his future. He won't even think about it until July, when his agent and Pistons president Joe Dumars talk. He simply wants to finish the season. The Pistons need Calderon more than he needs them.

The Pistons have won three titles in their history. Hall of Fame point guard Isiah Thomas led them to titles in 1989 and 1990. Chauncey Billups was the lead guard during the 2004 championship. They knew how to run a team. Nobody on this roster outside of Calderon does.

He should be able to get a contract in excess of $10 million a year after this season. He could shop himself around and at least join a team that is guaranteed to make the playoffs. But Calderon is a loyal guy. The Pistons impressed him because they were willing to get rid of Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye in a three-team deal that brought him here from Toronto.

Dumars, Frank love him

Calderon felt wanted and that was important to him.

"For sure you want to go to a place that wants you," he said. "They showed that from the first day that they wanted me. So I feel pretty comfortable now. After that we will see. This is too long. At the end of July we will start talking and we figure it out."

Calderon insists he has not made a decision on his future.

"I have no thoughts in my mind," he said. "I am really happy here. I want to finish the season and see how it goes. I think they are happy. I feel good here."

Dumars and coach Lawrence Frank are huge Calderon fans and both want him to return. The three men have spoken but no one is doing a hard sell.

"A lot of the stuff he brings is exactly an area that we needed to get better in, so that's why I really enjoying watching him," Dumars told Pistons.com. "It was never the expectation that Jose would come in and turn everything around for us. What he would do is give us a snapshot of what it's like to have a true point guard around here."

Show him some respect

If the Pistons really want Calderon to return, here are a couple of suggestions. They should make him the true leader of this team. Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight still are learning.

Calderon is a seven-year veteran who is well respected around the league. He averages 11.3 points and 7.2 assists. The last player to average 7.2 assists was Billups in 2006-07.

Secondly, they should consult with Calderon on what talent the Pistons need — in other words, give him some ownership. Thomas was consulted in trades. Billups became a leader of the team along with Ben Wallace. Calderon should be afforded the same opportunity.

This team is young and clueless. The Pistons need a stable voice and Calderon admits he is not there yet because he still is learning this team. But give him an offseason and training camp and he should be more comfortable.

"I have been doing the same thing (with Toronto) for a lot of years and sometimes change is not easy," Calderon said. "It is getting used to the coach, getting used to The Palace, getting used to teammates. It is 50-50 both ways and some days it works better than others. I feel comfortable. There are things I like here."

terry.foster@detroitnews.com

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