Ryan Anderson has agreed to a four-year deal with the Houston Rockets worth $80 million on Saturday, leaving the New Orleans Pelicans and becoming the Rockets' first signing of the free agency period.
There was a swell of rumors that followed the team into last season's trade deadline involving the hot shooting forward. Anderson was one of the league's most sought-after trade targets in February but ultimately remained in New Orleans at the time. But there was always an expectation that he might leave in the offseason, as he ultimately did.
Anderson has battled injuries and personal strife through his career. He missed all but 22 games in 2013-14 after suffering a herniated disc early in the season. He also had to deal with the emotional fallout when his girlfriend Gia Allemand took her own life in 2013. He's missed at least 16 games in all but one of his eight seasons as a pro.
The California product powered through those struggles to become a dynamic weapon in the Pelican frontcourt. He has averaged 16.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.3 three pointers per game since signing with New Orleans despite spending the majority of his days coming off the bench. At 6'10, the versatile forward can stretch the floor with his shooting -- and he's an underrated outlet passer as well.
Anderson slid to the 21st pick of the 2008 NBA Draft despite averaging 21.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Cal, but the lanky forward outplayed his slot before his rookie contract was up. He broke out in his fourth season in the league, averaging 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds while showcasing his ability to stretch the floor by making a league-high 166 three pointers with a near 40 percent success rate. That big performance made him the league's Most Improved Player in 2012.
Anderson inked a four-year, $34 million contract with New Orleans in a sign-and-trade deal with the Magic that summer.
Now, at 28 years old, he's poised to join the Rockets, disappointing last year but clearly talented, in the prime of his career. Anderson isn't going to be confused for Kawhi Leonard on the defensive end, but his efficient offensive game helps minimize any liabilities his below-average defense creates. The dynamic forward can score from anywhere on the court, and he'll easily slide into an offense led by James Harden, even as the team moves on from Dwight Howard.