At 36 years old and playing in his 13th NBA season, there isn't much Jose Calderon hasn't seen.
However, he admitted after the Cleveland Cavaliers' 107-102 win over visiting New Orleans on Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena that this season has been unlike his first dozen in the league.
The first signing of first-year general manager Koby Altman last summer, Calderon was expected to see little or no playing time. However, time and time again, he's proven to be a valuable contributor, be it as a starter or, as was the case Friday night, when pressed into action because of injury.
"Never," Calderon said, shaking his head with a smile, when asked if he's ever been utilized as he has this season before. "But I've never been on a team like this, either, so I think goes together."
It certainly did against the Pelicans. When starting point guard George Hill went down at the 6:22 mark of the third quarter, Hill had just scored his first eight points of the game after a scoreless first half.
While driving to the hoop, Hill stepped on the foot of Rajon Rondo of New Orleans, injuring his own left foot.
The veteran played 14 minutes, scoring only five points, but the Cavaliers went on to outscore the Pelicans by 15 points when he was on the floor, helping to pave the way to the win, Cleveland's sixth in its last seven games.
Cavaliers acting coach Larry Drew said he thought at halftime about playing Calderon because the team lacked energy, but stuck with his starting five. Hill's injury opened the door and Calderon jumped through it.
"It just so happened, it happened the way it happened, came in with Jose, and I thought Jose did a really good job," Drew said. "He made a couple shots, but more importantly he really played with a lot of energy and that was something that I thought we really needed at that point."
Calderon said remaining mentally tough is the key to him being ready to answer the bell if his number is called.
"I don't know. I think it's just mentally, I know I gotta be ready at every moment and like you say, sometimes it's been a couple of weeks, sometimes like today, its been a couple of quarters," he said. "I know what I can do out there, I just gotta stay ready for whenever my name is called.
"Today, it was because G-Hill went down and I just went out there and gave effort and it worked out well."
Defense was where is started, Calderon said.
"I think it was about that. We got a few stops. We could run," he said. "We got easy baskets, I think it was two or three layups in a row and I think that changed the momentum. I think it was about us just trying to make the extra effort and try to make them (have it) a little more difficult out there."
Which comes with playing with energy, which Drew referenced was needed at halftime.
"That's the way I play," Calderon said. "That's what I've been trying to give to the team is just trying to give the energy out there, trying to get everybody involved and that's what I did tonight. Like I say, sometimes it goes better than others, but you just gotta go out there and try to do your best."
LeBron James is appreciative of what Calderon does for the team.
"You gotta have one or two guys like that on every team, someone who has kind of like zero ego, zero notion of (entitlement)," James said. "Like, listen, his whole thing is like, 'I'm going to stay ready. I'll stay ready so if my number is called' and he goes out and produces and that's big for our team because you never know when someone is going to go down and in this case, in the third quarter when G-Hill went down and he was just ready for the call."
Calderon said he appreciates the way coach Tyronn Lue and Drew have communicated with him, letting him know what's to be expected.
"It's important, because mentally, it's not the same when you are going to start a game or you're not going to play at all or you're going to be on the second unit," he said. "I think it's important. It's been OK. It's been good. So, it is really important."
Kevin Love said much the same about Calderon's impact.
"He's such a savvy veteran. I was just saying, he picks up fullcourt, plays super hard on the defensive end, always knows our coverages," he said. "Incredibly solid on the offensive end. A shotmaker. Gets us into our sets, doesn't turn the ball over.
"There's just so much that Jose does and is one of the guys that a lot can show up on the stat sheet, but doesn't necessarily have to with him. So he makes a big difference for us."
Calderon said being ready to step up when a guy goes down has come with the territory for the Cavs, this season.
"Every day, we've got something," he said. "We can never get healthy, but we're gonna be all right when the time matters and it's in a couple weeks.
"We're going to get everybody back and it's going to be our turn to be healthy to be ready for the playoffs."