MIAMI - If you push and push and push, eventually, Alan Anderson will admit he is having a decent time in the NBA.
“I feel good. I feel good here with the guys,” the Toronto Raptors' swingman said while stretching on the floor of the Miami Heat's practice facility on Thursday. “I feel good here with the coaching staff. Everybody, we get along. Our chemistry, it feels like I've been here all year.
“I haven't had anything that makes me feel like they don't want me back or anything like that. But like I said, you never know.”
That is as far as Anderson will let himself go. It does not matter that he has started the last nine games, and figures to start the Raptors' final three. It does not matter that he has earned head coach Dwane Casey's trust and reverence, supplanting James Johnson in the starting unit.
He, like everyone else, is a product of his own experience. And his life has been a nomadic one. From Italy to Russia to Croatia to Israel to the D-League to Spain to China and back to the D-League, Anderson has not been in the same place for more than a year since he spent two seasons with the Bobcats in Charlotte, from 2005-07.
But it is possible he might have found a landing spot in Toronto.
“With Alan, what you see is what you get,” Casey said Wednesday. “He's a dirt worker, the kind of guy who is going to do it through grind and grit every night. We need that. We've got to have that going forward, the type of player that is mentally tough. You've still got to have potential.
“You still have got to have great upside. But to get to the playoffs, to get to the money, you've got to have that grind and grit, with skill. That's what Alan Anderson is.”
Anderson signed a 10-day contract with Toronto on March 26. He received another one 10 days later, and was signed for the rest of the season on Monday. He has scored in double digits for the undermanned Raptors in the last six games, hitting 13 three-pointers over that span.
Casey admires him for his reliability; parsing the coach's words, it is easy to see Casey would like Anderson back next year if general manager Bryan Colangelo can bring him back for a reasonable price. Yet, Anderson, surrounded by admiration, remains reticent to start looking for a permanent residence in the city.
“Earlier, (when I was) younger, I did, I thought about where I was going to play next year, where I was going to be, things like that,” Anderson said.
“Now, it's like, man, I'm just happy to be here. I'm doing everything I can to help out that day, that game. I'm just doing it. I'm not even worried about the next year.”
Anderson's averages of 9.1 points and 3.0 rebounds per game on 44 per cent shooting are nothing special. But, likely due to his experience, he has been comfortable with the Raptors, adapting to Casey very well. He said that the D-League has plenty of players just as talented but, because he is 29, he was able to latch on to Casey's defensive schemes quickly.
Still, Anderson has had moments that have exposed him as a relative newbie in the league.
“When I got the starting position (on April 4), it was shocking, for the most part. I didn't suspect it at all,” Anderson said. “They didn't even tell me until I got to film. (The coaches) were like, ‘Alan, you're starting on (Andre) Iguodala.' I was like, ‘Dude, does he know my name is Alan?'
“It felt good. I thought it was like a one-time thing. . . . The next game, I came in, we had practice, and I was in the white second-team jerseys. And (Casey) was like, ‘Timeout. Who's on the (starting) five? Who's on the five? Alan!' I was like, ‘I'm starting again?' I was like, ‘All right.' I've been on black since then.”
In the near future, he could be in the green, too.
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