DALLAS – Jose Calderon, who was signed this summer to be the Dallas Mavericks’ new starting point guard, won’t suit up with his new teammates until Oct. 16 at the earliest.
Coach Rick Carlisle has described Calderon’s hamstring strain suffered in an Oct. 2 practice as minor, but the Mavs' plan to exercise caution with the 32-year-old point guard includes sitting him out of at least the first three preseason games.
“Then we’ll evaluate where he is as far as game action,” Carlisle said. “But he’s doing well.”
Rookie Gal Mekel, a 25-year-old making the leap from the Israeli league, is filling as the starter while Calderon recovers. Mekel had two points, five rebounds, five assists and five turnovers in Monday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Mavs signed Calderon to a four-year, $29 million deal this summer. Finding a savvy, pass-first point guard was an offseason priority after Dallas’ 12-year playoff streak was snapped last season, which the Mavs finished with 37-year-old journeyman Mike James as the starting point guard.
Calderon played for Spain in the Eurobasket tournament before reporting to the Mavs’ training camp. The Mavs have been careful with him since he experienced tightness in his hamstring during the team’s third practice of camp.
“I’ll be back soon enough,” said Calderon, who has averaged 10.1 points and 7.2 assists over eight NBA seasons. “Nothing to worry about.”
The missed time is delaying Calderon’s development of on-court chemistry with a team that includes nine newcomers.
“It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is,” said power forward Dirk Nowitzki, Calderon’s new pick-and-pop partner. “It’s going to be a long year. If he does play sometime next week, we’ll still have four or five preseason games with him. He played all summer, so just by sitting out a week, he shouldn’t be out of shape and he’s watching all the practices, he’s walking through all the stuff. He’s a smart guy and I think he’ll adjust pretty quick.”