Rockets forward Ryan Anderson had a busy summer.
“Got married, had a great little honeymoon in New Zealand,” he recalled. “Just got a lot of work in as well though. I’m down like 10 pounds from last year, I really just want to come in and be in good shape and have a great season. It’s just been a really, really nice offseason, but I’m ready to get back to work.”
The more svelte Anderson took the podium at Rockets media day Monday wearing his new number 33 Rockets jersey. That was his number while with the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans, but he switched to 3 in deference to Corey Brewer, but with Brewer gone and Chris Paul in town, Anderson decided it would be a good time to back to his old number.
“It feels good, it feels normal again,” he said with a smile. “It’s just a number, but I’ve always been 33, or as long as I’ve had a choice I’ve been 33. Obviously, Corey Brewer looked good in 33, but I’m glad to have it back.”
Up until Saturday, it didn’t feel like it was 100 percent that Anderson would be back in Houston after a summer filled with trade rumors. Those ended when the New York Knicks traded Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and while Anderson was aware of the rumors, they didn’t bother him.
“It’s really nothing new for me,” he said. “I mean, my whole career, coming here, it took me four years just to get here, talking about trade rumors. I steer clear of it. I don’t really look online. I don’t really follow Twitter or Instagram or anything like that, so it’s hard to avoid it because people are coming to you wanting to talk about it, but it’s out of my control. This is my, going onto my tenth year now, so this is something, is a part of the game, you can’t take it personal.”
Still, Anderson is glad the saga is finally over.
“It’s not like a trade thing is something that’s necessarily a positive, great thing for you, but it’s a scenario that happens,” he said. “People speculate, writers want to write the story, they want people to be interested in what’s going on. This was a thing though, this summer, this whole scenario that like I said, I tried to steer clear of, and I think I did a pretty good job, and just wanted to be positive and ready to go.”
Anderson told reporters at Toyota Center on Monday that he was in constant contact with the Rockets and was told their was a low probability that he would be dealt, As for his teammates, well, James Harden is certainly glad to have his sharp-shooting power forward back.
“He’s a big part of what we’re doing and where we’re trying to go. Last year he had a very good year being that it was his first year here in Houston. This year he’s going to be even better.”
In the first year of a four year, $80 million contract, Anderson was everything the Rockets expected he’d be. He shot 40.3 percent from behind the three-point line, but that number dipped to 28.3 percent in his 11 postseason games. He was held scoreless in the Rockets game six embarrassment to the San Antonio Spurs, and was held to four points or less four other times, but he says his importance to the team should not be judged by the numbers.
“I know that there might be moments when I might score two points in a game and go 0-for-7, but we might win that game because James has that extra space, or there’s never a moment when I’m just wide open and I’m not a threat. I know what I can do, I know I’m a weapon, and on this team, I can use that weapon the best, and that’s why they paid me that contract, so whether people understand that or not it’s fine with me I’m very blessed and happy and fortunate.”
The contract is more than likely the reason Anderson is still with the Rockets. The Knicks were reportedly interested in taking on the remaining $61 million, and teams with cap space were reportedly asking for two first round picks in order to absorb it. Anderson hit free agency in 2016 when the NBA’s salary cap spiked by $24 million, and after the well dried up on many players this summer, he understands he got lucky.
“I pinch myself everyday I got that contract,” He admitted. “I feel very blessed, I was a free agent at a really good time because I understand this summer free agency was not the same, so anybody that has an issue with my contract remember that there will never be another free agency like last year, and yes, I’m very lucky to be apart of that, but I did work hard to get that.”