In his final installment from Orlando, The Salt Lake Tribune's Ross Siler checks in with the forgotten man in the big Magic-Nets trade:
As traumatic as the first trade of a young player's career is said to be, Ryan Anderson appears to be grieving about as much as a lottery winner after being sent to Orlando from New Jersey as part of the draft-day deal involving Vince Carter.
"The way that the trade went about, it wasn't a traumatic thing,” Anderson said. "If it was a situation where New Jersey was like, 'We don't want this guy, let's put him in the deal with Vince, throw him
out of here....'
"That's definitely not what it was. I talked to the whole staff in New Jersey. It was a hard decision for them to make, but if I could go with anybody, I'm glad I came with Vince.”
It took just five summer games for Anderson to make Orlando look like his personal Magic Kingdom. He finished with 33 points -- one shy of Travis Diener's league-record -- and 14 rebounds Tuesday against
He followed with five 3-pointers and 26 points against Utah. At times, Anderson was the second-best player in Orlando after Russell Westbrook and showed just how much he could thrive playing behind
Rashard Lewis with the Magic.
"How many guys in the league, when the ball leaves their hands, do you feel like, 'It's in'?” Jazz assistant Scott Layden asked. "All of a sudden the basket looks like a hula hoop.
"He's one of those guys, really. It leaves his hands and you say, 'It's in,' right? He's that way. And what a team to play for. Wow. Think about that. You get looks on Orlando.”
Anderson had one sequence Thursday during the second quarter against Utah in which he hit a 3-pointer, put the ball on the floor against Goran Suton -- spinning back for a layup -- and then buried another 3-pointer off a pick-and-pop.
Anderson averaged 7.4 points and 4.7 rebounds as a rookie in New Jersey, but played in only 66 games. The 21-year-old spoke about the importance of confidence, which he figures will be easier to maintain
with a defined role off the bench in Orlando.
"Rashard didn't really get too much of a break, so I'm there to relieve him,” Anderson said. "You can play the same game with Rashard on and off the court.”
Not even two weeks after the trade, Anderson crossed paths all week in Orlando with the Nets' Lawrence Frank, Rod Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe, in town to watch their own summer-league team. Anderson said there was no awkwardness in the least.
"I think it's kind of nice,” Anderson said. "I have that team family and now I have a brand-new family.”
The vibe around the Magic couldn't have felt better this week. Dwight Howard was a regular -- even for Friday's 11 a.m. getaway game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City -- while Vince Carter stopped in a handful of times.
Even after signing an offer sheet with Dallas, Marcin Gortat watched games every day, evidence perhaps of how tough it is to leave Orlando right now ... or, in Anderson's case, how easy it is to arrive.
"It's a good fit for us because he fits into our style of play,” Magic general manager Otis Smith said. "He's another tall forward that can shoot and you can't have enough of them.”
Having traded up from the Nets to the Magic, from a 34-win lottery team to one that reached the Finals, from winter in the Meadowlands to year-round fun in the sun, Anderson clearly is enjoying the view from the penthouse.
"I think I've always been an underdog guy my whole career,” Anderson said. "I'm finally in a spot where a team really wants me and needs me. Last year in New Jersey, I'm a rookie, so they don't know what to expect of me, really. But here they do, and it's exciting. This is a winning team. I'm really excited to be part of it.”