The last time Joe Dumars made an in-season trade for a high-profile veteran on an expiring contract he intended to pursue in free agency, it was 2004. The player was Rasheed Wallace and the best sales tool Joe D had at his disposal was the NBA championship run on which the Goin’ to Work Pistons embarked.
He has no such aphrodisiac by which to woo Jose Calderon.

“Obviously, it’s a different, different team – a younger team that’s trying to build vs. a team that’s vying for a championship, so that in itself makes the experience completely and totally different,” Dumars told me last week. “But a guy can still make a decision based on the environment, based on the culture, based on the surroundings, the way an organization goes about its business.

“We can still do those things great. A guy can still look around and say, ‘I like the direction. I like the thinking. I like how they do business. I can see myself here going forward because I trust that they’re going to turn this thing around.’ You can still sell, but clearly it’s a lot easier when you’re sitting in the NBA Finals as opposed to finishing a tough, tough season.”

Dumars made it clear after completing the late-January trade that sent Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to Memphis and brought Calderon over from Toronto that he wasn’t acquired to create even more cap room than the Pistons already anticipated having. The Pistons, Dumars said, would make every effort to retain Calderon for the long term.

Nothing he’s seen in Calderon’s 23 games has caused him to waver.

“It’s been very good to have a guy like Jose, who’s a veteran, true point guard, leader, on your team,” he said. “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. The results are not where we want them to be, but in the middle of the season for where your team is right now, it was never the expectation that Jose would come in and just turn everything around for us. What he would do is give us a snap shot of what it’s like to have a true point guard out there.”