Ryan Anderson says his contract has become a mental burden in Houston
In a new episode of The Long Shot podcast, former Rockets forward Ryan Anderson started his disappointing stint in Houston during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons of the NBA. Anderson spoke to Miami Heat swingman Duncan Robinson, who hosts the show.
A 6-foot-10 forward, Anderson signed a four-year, $ 80 million contract with Houston in July 2016 – which was the offseason when the league’s salary cap crossed a historic single peak. The influx of teams with significant cap space and unprecedented competition for free agents has led many players in the league, including Anderson, to be paid a lot more than their production normally suggests.
Although Anderson’s production never lived up to his salary, he did quite well in his first season in Houston – scoring 13.6 points in 29.4 minutes per game out of 40, 3% 3-point shots. This type of long-range shot from a tall man has been very helpful in clearing the floor for superstar goalie James Harden. But in the sophomore year, Anderson faced new competition for playing time in the form of recently signed forward PJ Tucker, and Anderson’s defensive limitations gradually led him out of the rotation. used by head coach Mike D’Antoni.
Another factor was Anderson’s inconsistency as a shooter. Many fans nicknamed him “Road Ryno”, in reference to the fact that he shot significantly better away from the Toyota Center. In 2016-17, he shot 46.5% from 3 points on the road and 33.2% at home. The same trend continued in 2017-18, with a clip of 42.2% on the road and 34.4% at home.
On the podcast, Anderson said the burden of fans’ expectations in Houston after signing such an important contract played a role. He explains:
It was a new thing for me, because I had always been the underdog, outperforming and now I was kind of the overpaid guy who didn’t get what they wanted even though I did everything they wanted. paid me and we were the most successful team in the NBA.
It was hard for me to be the guy who said to me, “You gotta do more and we pay you a lot for it”, rather than before it was like, “Wow, we got a good deal for this guy. ” It really affected me at home. I felt like every time I was in Houston, I let the fans down, or something like that.
Houston is one of those sporting cities where the pressure is always on you, and that’s all people want to talk about with you.
While he’s mostly in a positive mood on the podcast, Anderson suggested he wasn’t happy with his role with the Rockets, where he largely operated as a stationary shooter around Harden. He also made a joke at his own expense, hinting at his obvious limitations in the heavy switch defense favored by D’Antoni and his main assistant Jeff Bzdelik.
It was a challenge for me, especially not being able to thrive. In New Orleans… I was put in a position to prosper. I was not able to show all of my abilities in Houston.
It’s a tough thing when you’re not getting any credit, especially when you’re making a lot of money and you get two shots with about two seconds on the shot clock and miss them and you’re 0 for -2. from 3 and everyone says I suck. It’s the best part about not being in the NBA right now because I can just unload how much it pisses me off. People don’t want to hear it. I made a lot of money, I lived a good life. I’m so blessed love it, but the game is no fun when you have to sit there and you are not involved at all. You want to be involved, you want to be part of the offense. …
And, I’m not a good defender either, so I should always turn on Steph Curry, and he would make me buckets, and then I’m the dumbass.
Anderson was ultimately traded from Houston in August 2018, largely in an attempt to lose his salary and the associated luxury tax implications. Just over a year later, he signed a minimum deal with Houston ahead of the 2019-20 season – but he played sparingly in just two games before being released. Now 33, he hasn’t played in the NBA since, and it seems possible his career may be over.
Anderson suffered a series of significant injuries between 2013 and 2016, including a neck injury that required surgery. This seemed to take away some of the impressive athleticism shown earlier in his career, and in turn, it limited his value to the Rockets and other NBA teams.
In total, over a 12-year NBA career, Anderson averaged 12.3 points (38.0% of 3 points) in 25.8 minutes per game. He was selected No. 21 overall by the Nets in the first round of the 2008 draft.
Ryan Anderson had a really honest conversation about @TheLongShotPod. He wasn’t at all upset – often joking – but he was candid about the pressure he felt from Rockets fans and how much he disliked playing in a James-focused attack. Harden. https://t.co/JwDFXKAec8 Going through @chron
– Matt Young (@Chron_MattYoung) July 15, 2021