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Pistons' Calderon still working out visa issues

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Pistons' Calderon still working out visa issues

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) Jose Calderon is eager to make his debut for the Detroit Pistons. First, he has some visa issues to resolve.

The Spanish-born guard was not available to play Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he was hopeful the delay wouldn't be too long. Detroit, which acquired Calderon from Toronto on Wednesday night, hosts the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

``Hopefully as soon as possible,'' Calderon said. ``I'm just observing for now, but hopefully, it's quick.''

Calderon was at the team's practice facility earlier Friday, and the Pistons are already figuring out how their roster will work with the addition of the 6-foot-3 point guard. They're viewing Calderon as a short-term solution on offense - and potentially a long-term member of the lineup.

Pistons president Joe Dumars says the team wanted Calderon because of his talent - not just because of his expiring contract.

``We've tried to acquire him several times from Toronto over the years,'' Dumars said. ``We like him. This is someone that we'd have some interest in.''

Calderon played for Toronto for seven and a half seasons before being traded Wednesday night. The Pistons sent Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to Memphis as part of the three-team deal.

Calderon joined the Raptors from Spain in 2005. He is averaging 11.1 points and 7.4 assists this season.

``I am a point guard,'' he said. ``It's a team sport. You cannot win by yourself. There's only one or two Kobes or LeBrons.''

The 31-year-old Calderon says he's open to staying with the Pistons after this season.

``You're never going to close any doors. ... I'm a free agent in the summer, and we'll see,'' he said. ``It's always good when you're in a place where they really want you. That makes a huge difference.''

The Pistons entered Friday night's game in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, 5 1/2 games behind eighth-place Boston. The Celtics just lost All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to a knee injury, which may have improved Detroit's chances of chasing down a playoff spot.

But the Pistons are still in a bit of a rebuilding mode. Over the last three years, they've used first-round draft picks on big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, as well as guard Brandon Knight.

Calderon's arrival could mean Knight plays off the ball a bit more, although coach Lawrence Frank likes the idea of having multiple ball-handlers on the court at a time.

``We've got guards,'' Frank said. ``If we can defend, we'll be able to get out in the open court more. We'll be able to run more multiple pick-and-rolls.''

Dumars, meanwhile, is ready for an offseason of increased flexibility. Space under the salary cap can be used either to sign free agents or to trade for established players on other teams that are looking to trim payroll.

``The flexibility right now in the NBA is a huge asset for any team,'' Dumars said. ``The way things operate now in the NBA, teams have to make moves for financial reasons. You want to be in a position to be one of those teams to benefit from that.''

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Lamar Jackson limited while Mark Andrews and Ronnie Stanley miss Monday practice

Lamar Jackson limited while Mark Andrews and Ronnie Stanley miss Monday practice

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Three days after the Ravens practiced with all 53 members of the active roster, there’s now legitimate injury concerns for the AFC’s top team. 

Tight end Mark Andrews and left tackle Ronnie Stanley both missed practice with a knee injury and a concussion, respectively, whlie Lamar Jackson was a limited participant with an elbow injury. The team will have just two more days to prepare for kickoff against the Jets, a little over 72 hours after the team’s first practice of the week. 

The most notable injury, however, was Jackson’s absence. 

“We’ll see,” coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson’s practice availability this week. “It’s less than 24 hours after the game, it’s hard to say. It’s not a serious injury in that sense. This is day-to-day when we play Thursday night, so we’ll see where we’re at.”

Harbaugh declined to share more about the specific injury to Jackson. 

When asked about Stanley’s concussion, he also declined to share more about the team’s injuries. 

“I’m not going to get into injuries, we just got done playing the game 24 hours ago,” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to play a game Thursday night. The guys that are ready to play will play. The guys that aren’t won’t. So just look at the injury report and take it from there.”

While it’s promising that Jackson was just a limited participant, the absences of Andrews and Stanley — and special teamers Anthony Levine and Chris Board — are far more worrisome. 

Stanley has missed just a handful of snaps this season, and played in 100 percent of the snaps against the Bills. 

Andrews played just nine snaps, as a knee injury kept him out of the lineup for the majority of Sunday’s game. 

Should neither of the four that missed practiced be able to go, the Ravens will have to replace their starting left tackle, leading pass-catcher and two special teams starters in short time.

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Anthony Rendon’s future appears set following Stephen Strasburg deal

Anthony Rendon’s future appears set following Stephen Strasburg deal

SAN DIEGO -- On the stage Monday at the Winter Meetings, two key components of Anthony Rendon’s future chatted before the television’s red camera light popped on.

Mike Rizzo and agent Scott Boras passed a final 30 seconds before showtime with small talk, then addressed the first bombastic signing of the Winter Meetings: Stephen Strasburg is returning to the Washington Nationals on a seven-year, $245 million deal. This, for all intents and purposes, ends Rendon’s time with the organization. 

The math creates a crunch. Rizzo tried to maneuver around the reality when on the dais next to Boras, but the reality is Washington does not want to surpass the competitive balance tax, it does not want to blow out payroll, and it has little wiggle room. Rendon moving on is the now an anchor in the offseason.

Washington operates with a big payroll and pocket-lining approach. A seeming dichotomy. It spends just to the edge. Then, it stops. Not too far to go over the tax. Not too far to appear reckless. But always far enough to say, correctly, the organization is a willing spender, a point Rizzo leaned on when asked about Rendon’s future Monday.

“You look at the history of the Nationals and the way we've positioned ourselves and the details of the contract and the way that it's structured, this ownership group has never shied away from putting the resources together to field a championship-caliber club,” Rizzo said. “I don't see them in any way hindering us from going after the elite players in the game.

“I think that Anthony Rendon is, again, one of the players that is most near and dear to my heart, a guy we've drafted, signed, developed, watched turn into a superstar, playoff success, and a huge part of the world championship run that we went on. So he's a guy that we love.

“The ownership has always given us the resources to field a great team, and we're always trying to win, and we're going to continue to do so.”

That is a 141-word non-answer. 

Washington’s managing principal owner Mark Lerner did not help Rizzo’s position before the Winter Meetings by stating the team could bring back only Rendon or Strasburg -- not both. 

“He did?” Rizzo joked. 

He did. Which, naturally, makes reporters curious about the correlation between a statement from ownership and Rizzo’s operating capacity.

“Well, when you look at those comments, and then you look at the structure of this particular deal and the structure of deals we've had getting up to where we are right now, I think Mark realizes that there's ways to fit players in, there's ways that you can field a championship-caliber roster -- and, again, the resources have always been there, so I don't expect that to change,” Rizzo said.

Here, he hopped into the idea Strasburg’s deferred money -- reportedly $80 million to be paid out within three years of the contract’s expiration -- suggesting the manipulation of those numbers keeps Rendon in play for the organization. It’s not enough. Not based on how the Nationals allocate and spend.

Which means they chose. Strasburg or Rendon. They could only have one, and they signed the homegrown pitcher and thanked Rendon for his time.

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