Change is coming to the Raptors
starting lineup tonight.
Rasho Nesterovic and T.J. Ford are in and Andrea Bargnani
and Jose Calderon
are out for the struggling squad as it faces the Detroit Pistons at the Air Canada Centre.
The switch of Nesterovic for Bargnani
is not a huge surprise given their play of late but changing point guards with only a dozen games left in the regular season is a big gamble and comes at the suggestion of the player being demoted.
After watching Ford struggle to find his way in a backup role, Calderon
suggested – and coach Sam Mitchell agreed – that the move be made to kick-start Ford and, hopefully, the team as a whole.
Ford hasn't started a game since Dec. 12, a night when he suffered serious back and neck injuries after being clubbed to the floor by Atlanta's Al Horford.
The 25-year-old missed Toronto's next 24 games and also missed a couple of games with a strained abdominal muscle.
His play of late has been spotty, as he's found it difficult to adapt to a backup role. He's been dominating the ball on offence, trying to force himself on the game instead of simply running the offence.
Calderon, a restricted free agent at the end of the season, met with Mitchell and president Bryan Colangelo on Tuesday to discuss the switch. He sees the same things the coaches, teammates and fans do – that Ford is uncomfortable with the second unit and the team's play in deteriorating.