It appeared that Marcelo Huertas‘ time with the Los Angeles Lakers had come to an end. Earlier this summer, the Lakers executed a trade with the Chicago Bulls that landed veteran guard Jose Calderon, who would presumably act as the backup to point guard D’Angelo Russell. With Jordan Clarkson also capable of handling duties at point guard, it seemed as though the Lakers were set at the position.
However, the Lakers liked what they saw from Huertas last season, and opted to bring him back on a two-year deal worth just over $3 million, with the second year non-guaranteed. Now, head coach Luke Walton admitted to Mark Medina of the Orange Country Register that he is going to have a tough time deciding which one, Calderon or Huertas, will be the team’s backup point guard:
“That’s going to be a tough call. I’m sure throughout the season we’ll lean on different ones at different times depending on what we need. But I feel completely confident with either one of them on the floor running the team.”
There are some similarities between the two, as both are foreign-born veterans with plenty of experience running a team, and they both struggle on the defensive end of the floor. However, it’s their differences that will make Walton’s decision a tough one, and it could be one that changes on a night-to-night basis, via Medina:
“Jose is a phenomenal shooter and one of the best shooters on our team,” Walton said. “But he’s a little older[…]Are we not getting involved? Marcelo is probably our best playmaker on the team out there.”
Walton hits at the crux of the issue: What is more valuable to the team, Calderon’s shooting or Huertas’ passing? Both are at an elite level at those particular skills and can be an asset for the Lakers.
As Walton notes, this may lead to him making the decision game-by-game, with Calderon getting the nod when the team needs more spacing and Huertas subbing in whenever the ball isn’t moving enough. In a way, having two steady, veteran guards with different skill sets is a luxury for Walton, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to determine which one should play on any given night.