For some four-year veterans poised to hit the free agent market this summer, such as Brandon Jennings or Tyreke Evans, it will be their first opporunity to go through the process. That's not the case for four-year players across the board though. For Alan Anderson, who debuted back in 2005 with the Bobcats and is currently finishing up the fourth season of his NBA career, free agency is all too familiar.
"I've been playing on one-year [contracts] since Charlotte," Anderson told Hoops Rumors on Saturday. "One year, one year, one year. I've been a free agent every year."
Anderson's playing career has included stops in Italy, Russia, Israel, and Spain, but he received his first chance at consistent, full-season NBA minutes this season in Toronto, after the Raptors signed him to a one-year, minimum-salary deal last summer. The 30-year-old has taken advantage of the opportunity by having his best year yet, averaging 10.7 PPG and a 12.5 PER, both career-highs, in 63 contests with the Raps.
Coming off his most successful season to date, Anderson will be revisiting that familiar free agent process this July, but he should find he has a little more leverage than usual this time around. His production may not necessarily earn him a multiyear contract, or a salary worth a whole lot more than the minimum, but there should be no shortage of teams looking for scorers off the bench. Anderson has exhibited the ability to score baskets in bunches, as he did last month when he scored 35 against the Knicks, and can shoot the three (.352 career 3PT%), which should ensure he draws interest.
With the Raptors focusing on finishing the regular season on a winning streak, Anderson told Hoops Rumors than he hasn't started thinking too much about his pending free agency. However, when he does begin weighing his options, Anderson will be looking for a situation where playing time will be available.
"Whoever has a need for me," Anderson said. "I want to go somewhere and play. I don't want to sit on the bench."
The Raptors could be facing something of a salary-cap crunch this offseason, with about $73MM in commitments on their books for 2013/14. They have the amnesty clause available, and it's widely expected that they'll try to move Andrea Bargnani to cut costs, but the team could still end up in the tax. Of course, that shouldn't necessarily preclude the Raptors from bringing back Anderson — the club will have to fill out its roster somehow. It may limit the team's ability to offer Anderson much of a raise, however.
Assuming the Raptors have the interest and the flexibility to bring Anderson back, returning to Toronto would be the veteran forward's preference, after spending the last season and a half with the franchise.
"They're the ones that gave me my second chance back in the NBA," Anderson said of the Raptors, who signed him to a 10-day contract in 2011/12 after he'd been out of the league since '06/07. "So yeah, I would definitely want to come back."
Whether or not Anderson will be wearing a Raptors uniform next season remains to be seen, but Anderson and agent Mark Bartelstein should be looking forward to this summer. After spending years looking for NBA teams to give him a chance, Anderson may very well receive interest from multiple suitors this July.