Spurs bring back Anderson to fill void left by Leonard, Jackson
By Rob Mahoney
The San Antonio Spurs and 23-year-old swingman James Anderson have only been apart for a few months, but free agency couldn’t stand in the way of this star-cross’d pair. According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the Spurs have re-signed Anderson after originally declining his third-year team option back in January. This is largely in response to a recent string of injuries that left the Spurs short-handed on the perimeter. Now, Anderson will get the extended tryout he should have had all along, and a renewed opportunity to live up to his promise as a scorer for one of the best developmental franchises in basketball.
Anderson was never able to find his footing in San Antonio the first time around, but there was enough of a baseline — in terms of familiarity and role — for the Spurs to bring him back once injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson put the team in a bind. Essentially, this is the most polite way that Gregg Popovich could possibly express his lack of confidence in rookie guard Nando de Colo, who hasn’t done all that much to impress in his non-garbage time minutes to date. The Spurs are still fairly deep in the wings even after we except de Colo, but they could nonetheless use Anderson to fill out a shortened rotation shared by Manu Ginobili, Gary Neal and Danny Green.
And if this stop doesn’t work out all that well for Anderson, then his NBA opportunities may well run dry. Former Spurs executive Danny Ferry brought in Anderson to try out for the Atlanta Hawks roster during training camp, but passed on offering him a season-long spot. Considering that San Antonio has already brushed off Anderson once, a second spurning could be the last straw — the impetus for a career spent bouncing between the D-League and Europe. Even if his eventual home isn’t in San Antonio, this is Anderson’s chance to put the first two uninspiring years of his pro career behind him, and establish himself as a commodity worth having on an NBA roster. Whether he’s capable of that remains to be seen, but there should be no shortage of opportunities so long as both Leonard and Jackson are sidelined with their respective ailments.