Calderon key to solving Mavs' crunch-time crisis

DALLAS – The primary reason the Dallas Mavericks signed Jose Calderon was to solve their crunch-time crisis.

The 41-41 Mavs might have been the NBA’s most frustrating team in clutch moments last season. They had a miserable tendency to find ways to lose close games, as evidenced by their 5-8 record in contests decided by three points or fewer and their 3-8 record in overtime games. Their last-minute turnover rates were especially troublesome.

Hence the Mavs’ offseason mantra about upgrading the team’s basketball IQ. Enter Calderon and his sterling 7.2-to-1.7 career assist-to-turnover ratio.

“Last year in crunch time, we had too many turnovers, we didn’t get the ball where we needed it,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “Calderon should help us do that, and we shouldn’t be losing seven games in overtime in a row. Not with this team, not with the playmakers we’ve got.

“If we just win half of those close games, we should be a playoff team.”

The 32-year-old Calderon comes with limitations due to his pedestrian athletic ability. He’s never been known as a defensive stopper, and he’s no more of a threat to drive at this point of his career than Jason Kidd was in his later years.

But Calderon is a tremendous spot-up shooter – his 3-point percentage (46.1) led the NBA last season – who is smart enough to know that his most valuable attribute is his veteran savvy. That’s especially true for a team that has a lot of offensive firepower in Nowitzki, slashing shooting guard Monta Ellis and sixth man Vince Carter.

“My job this year is going to be to try to get the ball to the right guys at the right moment,” Calderon said. “Try to know where they want the ball. Get everybody involved. It’s going to be with Dirk, going to be with Monta, with everybody. That’s what I do. I’m a pass-first point guard. That’s going to be my job.”