If you didn’t see the 30 games Ray McCallum played as a starter for the Sacramento Kings to close out last season, I can’t blame you. By the time they got around to hiring George Karl things had gone sideways in the California capital and this team was not headed to the playoffs.
But the second-year point guard looked pretty good. The son of a coach who plays a high IQ game and does a lot of the little things right, he averaged 11.2 points a game as a starter, shot 34 percent from three at that time, and dished out 4.3 assists a night. He’s a solid defender (but not a stopper, as he had been billed). He’s got good handles and uses that skill to weave through a defense to create havoc and open up angles. While his shot and shot selection could still use some work, this is an improving young player entering just his third season who can be a solid part of the point guard rotation on any team.
It was one of the quieter moves of a busy summer, but it was about the most Spurs thing ever. They pick up a solid player making less than $1 million a year for next to nothing. (You can see why the Kings made the move, they have Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison, McCallum would be buried on their bench.)
The Spurs are high on him as someone they trust to step in and guide the offense, something mentioned in Buck Harvey’s feature on McCallum in the Express-News.
While they don’t think McCallum will be the defender Cory Joseph is, they see him as someone who can run a team. If Tony Parker suffers injuries again, McCallum could be a key to the season.
McCallum is not Parker — if the French guard suffers an injury again it’s a big blow to the Spurs. And they can’t afford those kinds of setbacks with the quality of teams at the top of the Western Conference.
But mixed with Patty Mills, McCallum will play a significant role for the Spurs getting Parker time on the bench in games, plus nights off. McCallum will step right in and do Spurs-like things, making smart plays and focusing on doing what he does well, not trying to do too much.
I expect McCallum will thrive this season. And we’ll all look back at the McCallum trade and say “it’s the Spurs doing Spurs things again.”