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Lewenberg: Raptors Practice Report - Anderson's Journey

Josh Lewenberg

3/25/2013 7:25:31 PM

TORONTO - On Mar 24. 2012, Alan Anderson suited up for the Canton Charge of the NBA Development league, scoring 30 points in what turned out to be his curtain call for the team.

At the time, the Michigan State product was a member of his third D-League club in five years, having played professionally in six different countries, all since appearing in his last NBA game in 2007.

Less than 40 hours later Anderson received a series of text messages from his agent, Mark Bartelstein, telling him to pack his bags once again. This time he was headed north of the border.

Tuesday will mark the one-year anniversary of Anderson's first 10-day contract with the Toronto Raptors, a day he had worked long and hard for.

"I'm happy," the 30-year-old said, reflecting on the last 12 months as a member of the Raptors. "It's an accomplishment for me, getting back [to the NBA], but there's still a ways to go. [I've] still got things that I want to do, especially trying to help this organization get back to the playoffs."

Anderson first broke into the league as a 23-year-old out of college, signing with the Charlotte Bobcats where he played 53 games over two seasons before continuing his career overseas.

"I'm always on a one-year contract," he explained. "I've been playing one year, one year, one year. I never know what to expect the next following year so I don't worry about [it] because there won't be no next year if I don't handle now."

Thanks in large part to a buildup of late-season injuries, Anderson was given an immediate opportunity to prove himself in Toronto, one he took advantage of, earning a second 10-day contract and a deal that locked him up for the remainder of the lockout shortened campaign. However, his veteran savvy and brand of hard-nosed defence, along with an unexpected propensity to knock down the three-point shot, left a lasting mark on the coaching staff, which ultimately translated into a one-year contract -- at/around the league minimum -- for the full 2012-13 season.

"He's been solid, for me," coach Dwane Casey said of the guard-forward. "He's a pro, he's a veteran and for this young team we need as many guys [with] his status, a veteran status, to step up and play and he has done that the entire year."

In 70 games with the Raptors, Anderson has averaged 11.1 points -- including a career-best 35-point performance on Friday -- while shooting 36 per cent from three-point territory. He has scored 10 or more points 40 times during his time with the team after reaching double figures in 11 of his first 53 NBA games with Charlotte.

Anderson's basketball journey -- bouncing from team-to-team, country-to-country -- compels him to live in the moment, without taking anything for granted, striving for success in a way that eluded him as a young player out of college. "I think I'm more mature, more humble," he told TSN.ca.

"I've seen a lot man. I've seen 10-day contracts, guys in and out. I've been on the team where the team started out together and everybody got cut besides me. I've seen it all."

"I don't worry about the future," he continued, "I worry about the present. I worry about; 'did I do everything I should have [done] to make it to tomorrow?' 'Did I shoot enough shots, did I go hard today in practice?' I worry about that."

With his contract set to expire upon the completion of this season, his hard work could finally pay off and land him his first multi-year NBA deal. Based on potential salary cap restrictions and an abundance of players at the wing positions, the Raptors may be unwilling or unable to extend him. However, his play over the last 12 months has likely turned enough heads to net him a hefty raise wherever he ends up this summer.

"I just take it day-by-day," Anderson exclaimed, sidestepping a question regarding his future. "I try not to look over nothing, you can't. Because when you look over days and weeks and stuff like that you miss out on your opportunities so I don't ever look over anything. I take it day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and [I] don't worry about anything I can't control."

"If I worry about that then I'll miss out on being here. So I'm [going] to handle all the business I have right now and worry about next year next year."

On the Mend

Contrary to prior speculation, the Raptors are not shutting down Rudy Gay, at least not for the time being.

"His back is loosening up so there's going to be no talk about shutting him down," Casey said of Gay, who has missed three games this month with reoccurring back pain that has put his availability in jeopardy. "It's going to be a day-to-day thing and he's going to have to see how his back responds to therapy. He's working hard every day to keep it loose. He wants to continue to play and we're going to allow him to and listen to the medical people."

"We're not going to put him out there if he can't go [but] if he can go we've got to allow him to because he's one of our best players. He's going to play if he's physically able to go."

Gay was a limited participant in practice on Monday after missing Saturday's game in New York, remaining in Toronto to receive treatment on his back.

"[The] only way I'm going to get shut down is if the doctors tell me I need to stop playing. I've been forced out before and that's not something I look forward to doing again."

"Some people are different but personally I'm just the kind of guy that if there's basketball to be played I want to be part of it. I love the game, I love my job."