The Toronto Raptors’ roster makeover continued last week when Alan Anderson signed with the Brooklyn Nets. If GM Masai Ujiri had any interest in retaining the services of the battle-hardened swingman, he kept it well-hidden. Anderson’s agent, hearing the deafening silence, struck a deal with the insanely wealthy (and ancient!) Brooklynites.
While the loss of Anderson is neither a surprise nor profound in its consequences, I am sad to see Alan elsewhere. His re-appearance in the NBA was a result of the extended tryout Bryan Colangelo offered several D-League hopefuls at the end of the lockout-shortened season of ’11-’12. Anderson was the only player signed, despite Ben Uzoh’s memorable triple-double game against these same Nets, who at the time were still occupying the New Jersey swamps.
Alan played well for the Raps. There were many games where he provided instant offense off the bench, with his ability to knock down 3s and drive to the hoop. On a scoring-challenged second unit, his contributions were essential. And his defense, which struck me as inadequate early in his tenure, improved dramatically. He was an excellent anticipator of passes, and similarly would take a drive in the chest to gain the charging foul. But what I think we’ll miss most is the intangible. Sports analysts are reluctant to comment about stuff like team chemistry, believing it to be too soft and squishy, and impossible to measure. Regardless, I think it’s important to the mental health of a professional team that it have someone(s) in the locker room who’s been there, and done that. A glance at the Raps’ lineup now reveals no even mildly grizzled veteran. Well, OK, Rudy Gay I suppose, but does he strike you as being an ass-kicker behind closed doors? Me neither. Alan Anderson had played ball all around the world, and been out of the NBA for years before earning his return. He worked his butt off, and never gave up his dream of playing on the big stage once again. Don’t you think all that would give him some credibility in a players-only scrum?
Marcus Camby might have donned the elder statesman cape, but made clear his desire to play for a contender, and was bought out. Too bad, but you can’t have a guy on your team who doesn’t want to be there.
I hope our GM is not done building the roster. We’re too young at the moment. Here’s a prediction: should the Raps be hanging around the playoff race in late January, Masai will add a father figure to the roster.
Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.