Ryan Anderson joined J.J. Redick on the Vertical for an extensive interview. Although it's almost an hour long, the podcast makes for a good listen because the answers were not contrived and the players guarded.
The main reason for this is due to the friendship they share -- one that was made evident numerous times when they fondly brought up old memories such as the formation of their semi-legitimate (?) musical group, James Clay: formally known as Waste Management. This bond started years ago when they were former teammates with the Orlando Magic.
The juiciest bit of news came just after the 42-minute mark when Anderson revealed how close he was to being traded from the New Orleans Pelicans before the last deadline.
"There was a very last minute phone call that I could have gone to Cleveland. I would be playing for the Cavaliers right now, but instead they got Channing Frye."
The Cavaliers are showing strong interest in acquiring Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson, sources said.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) February 17, 2016
According to Anderson, trade rumors became an annual event, as he believes his name was whispered in each of his four years in New Orleans. He failed to rule out a return to the Pelicans on a new contract, but he did mention, "It was a weird situation. I don't know what management's mindset is."
That's not exactly a ringing endorsement, right?
Further, Anderson and Redick spoke fondly of their time in Orlando while under Stan Van Gundy. In Ryan's words, he thought it was a perfect situation where everyone had a role. "Stan Van Gundy gets it." As the two players went on to explain, SVG trusts everyone to do their jobs, from the general manager to the assistant coaches to the athletic trainers.
Interestingly, Anderson mentioned of having a defined role as his top priority in the upcoming free agency period. "You want it to be in a place you enjoy going to work everyday." He claimed he made a promise to himself that he will join a team that promises to best utilize him. Anderson reiterated that he wants to feel valued, "Feel like you're a part of something."
When he spoke of New Orleans, Anderson referred to all of his ups and downs, both professionally and personally, that he has endured over the last four years. Specifically the 2-year period where he unforgettably lost his girlfriend, Gia Allemand, to suicide and then had to battle back from spinal surgery were mind-numbingly painful.
"I fell hard. You can't fall harder."
Anderson was thankful to family, friends and teammates but Monty Williams topped the list. The former Pelicans head coach was the one responsible for helping him in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and then for getting him back on the basketball court.
"He got me back. He was such a rock for me. He was the first person I called. He picked me up and dragged me out of that condo complex. His wife was there all night with me, sitting there and talking to me, 'this is never going to go away but you can move forward.'"
Naturally when Anderson learned of Ingrid Williams' passing, he couldn't believe it. He had never seen a couple so united before and in the blink of an eye, their bond was split by tragedy too. After attending the funeral, Anderson claimed, "Monty is the strongest guy I've ever been around. Monty's speech was like listening to Martin Luther King or some world-changing speech that everyone needs to hear."
In an attempt to read between the lines, if there are any, Anderson's time in New Orleans is probably over. His mentor is now an assistant coach in Oklahoma City. Despite all the good times in the Crescent City, several haunting memories nearly forced him to quit basketball. But most importantly, the comparisons between Orlando and New Orleans are hard to miss. On the one hand, Anderson talked about how he was in a perfect situation with the Magic and his number one priority in free agency is the need to feel valued and used properly. On the other, he questioned New Orleans front office mindset and made reference to four years of trade rumors in the same interview.
In late March, I opined Anderson's odds of joining DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings could be good. Today's interview only served to add more fuel to that fire. Not that many NBA players don't own multiple homes, but it was interesting to note Redick mention Anderson just moved into his new offseason home in South Bay, Los Angeles. Anyone else have a feeling that isn't going to be the only new address in his foreseeable future?