Jose Calderon denies rumors he is unhappy, wants trade

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Jose Calderon played well for Toronto last season. A lot of people didn’t notice because, well, he plays for Toronto and they weren’t very good. But Calderon was — 10.5 points a game, 8.8 assists and he had a PER of 16.7.

So, the Raptors went out and got Kyle Lowry in the offseason to be the starting point guard. How’s that for a pat on the back?

That led to all kinds of speculation that Calderon was unhappy and wanted a trade. But back at the Raptors workout facility he told the Toronto Star none of that is true.

“I don’t know if we have to use that word (controversy) before even training camp,” said Calderon before flatly denying a summer report that he was put out by the acquisition of Lowry and wanted a trade from the only NBA team he’s ever played for. “I think we are just two more players for the Raptors team, we’re going to try to win games for the Raptors.

“I think it’s just wanting to make a big thing before anything has started. It doesn’t matter, we have to win games, we want to make the playoffs. If he scores 20 points a game, I’ll be happy; it’s helping us win.”

Calderon may not want a trade from the only team he’s ever played for, but you can bet he is going to come up in rumors. When teams south of the border go shopping for a point guard in a trade the Raptors phone is going to ring and they will get offers for Calderon, who is in the last year of his deal making nearly $10.6 million. Lowry has one season after this but at a very reasonable $6.2 million.

Calderon is handling this like a pro — say it’s about the team, not your minutes. Now we’ll see how he handles a season of trade rumors. But he’s used to having another point guard in the mix, as long as he has been in Toronto there has been T.J. Ford or Jarrett Jack or someone he has to fight for minutes.

Just another day at the office for the Spaniard. So don’t expect public trade demands from him.

Quinn Cook signing two-year contract with Hawks

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The Hawks began last season with just two point guards, one fewer than most teams – especially notable because neither starter Dennis Schroder nor backup Malcolm Delaney was experienced for his role.

Schroder and Delaney return, but Atlanta is adding another option – Quinn Cook.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Cook is a borderline NBA player. He might not make the regular-season roster. He also might supplant Delaney for a rotation spot.

A 24-year-old who has spent most of the last two years in the D-League (also getting stints with the Mavericks and Pelicans), Cook is a good outside shooter. He’s also steady, if unspectacular, in his lead-guard duties.

This is a solid flier at a position the Hawks could use depth.

Knicks sign Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Jamel Artis

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The Knicks signing Nigel Hayes leaked first.

But New York didn’t stop there.

Knicks release:

The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has signed forwards Jamel Artis and Nigel Hayes and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Like Hayes, Artis (Pittsburgh) and Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) went undrafted this year – making them eligible to be waived and assigned to the Knicks’ minor-league affiliate. That’s likely all three’s fate.

But first, each will have an opportunity to make the regular-season roster. The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one roster spot for someone on a standard contract. Chasson Randle (unguaranteed) is the incumbent choice, but these three could supplant him.

O.J. Mayo says abusing prescription painkillers triggered NBA ban

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Last year, O.J. Mayo was banned from the NBA for at least two years due to a drug violation. Aside from stating a plan to come back, Mayo didn’t say much publicly.

Until now.

Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

He acknowledged smoking marijuana and abusing a prescription pain medication that triggered his two-year ban because it is on the NBA’s “drugs of abuse” list. (He emphatically denied testing positive for hard drugs like cocaine.)

Mayo also concluded that he had been “overwhelmed” by a string of difficult life events: his father, high school basketball star Kenny Ziegler, was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for distributing crack cocaine, his brother was placed in juvenile lock-up, a close friend went to jail, and another was killed. “I was bred to play basketball and I thought I could balance everything,” he said. “I couldn’t.”

That’s part of an interesting feature on Mayo, who’s training for his come back. Golliver’s story makes it easy to pull for Mayo.

But the guard will be 30 when he’s eligible to apply for reinstatement, and he played lousily in his last three seasons with the Bucks.

Hopefully, Mayo has and keeps his personal life in order. But returning to the NBA will be an uphill battle.

James Harden throws alley-oop to Chris Paul, pair puts on show at Houston charity event

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What chemistry problem?

There are legitimate questions about how Chris Paul and James Harden will share the backcourt and ball with the Rockets, but none of those were on display on Sunday. That’s when CP3 joined his new teammate in Harden’s charity game (raising money for Harden’s charity, which helps children from single-family homes get a higher education), a kind of pro-am with some names thrown in to draw a crowd.

Harden and CP3 put on a show for the fans.

This is a charity event, not every team is going to defend like this or the Phoenix Suns. It’s going to be harder when the games matter.

But the Rockets are going to be entertaining to watch this season. No doubt.