Brooklyn re-signs versatile forward to two-year pact
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It will be remembered as the last significant coaching move Jason Kidd made here before he left for Milwaukee.
Down three games to two to the Atlantic Division champion Toronto Raptors in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Kidd decided to shake things up a bit heading into Game 6 at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
He went away from the double point guard starting lineup that had helped Brooklyn overcome a dismal 10-21 start to the season, installing small forward/shooting guard Alan Anderson into Shaun Livingston’s spot alongside Deron Williams in the backcourt.
The end result: The Nets won the next two games, including a memorable 104-103 Game 7 thriller in Toronto that was capped off with Paul Pierce’s “Swat Heard ‘Round the World” on Kyle Lowry’s bid for a series-winning lay-up in the lane.
Pierce, of course, is gone now, having left the Nets earlier this week for a two-year deal with the Washington Wizards, his game-saving blocked shot of Lowry remaining as his legacy during his lone season in our fair borough.
Billy King didn’t want to bring back the future Hall of Fame forward, at least not at the $20 million price tag Pierce was looking for over the next two seasons.
So the Nets’ general manager is in the process of finding a more economical way of filling Pierce’s shoes next season, beginning with Monday evening’s official announcement that Anderson would be back in Brooklyn for the next two years.
The Nets inked Anderson for a reported $2.6 million, with a player option on the second year, adding him to the mix of replacements that will try to fill the formidable gap left in Brooklyn’s lineup by Pierce.
"Alan's versatility was a big part of our success last season," said King. "We look forward to Alan's continued leadership on and off the court this season."
Anderson will join 2011 first-rounder Bojan Bogdanovic and this year’s second-round selection, the high-flying Markel Brown, in giving new Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins some depth and versatility at the small forward position.
Sharp-shooter Mirza Teletovic will also be in the mix for more minutes in Pierce’s old position with the Nets after averaging 8.6 points in just under 20 minutes per game off the bench during the 2013-14 campaign.
Anderson had arguably the best of his five NBA seasons with Brooklyn, participating in a career-high 78 games while starting 26. He averaged 7.2 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 22.7 minutes per contest.
The Michigan State alum, who went undrafted in 2005 before spending two seasons with Charlotte and another four playing professionally in Italy, Israel and Spain, returned to the NBA in 2011 with Toronto.
He was a solid contributor with the Raptors, averaging career bests of 9.6 and 10.7 points per game, respectively, in his two seasons north of the border before signing with the Nets last summer.
In Brooklyn’s two playoff series, Anderson put up 5.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game over an average of 21.8 minutes.
Perhaps more importantly, he helped Kidd spread the floor for the rest of his offense in Games 6 and 7 against Toronto, two games the Nets had to have to avert another disappointing first-round exit from the playoffs.
Anderson, who shot 40 percent from the floor, including 34 percent from 3-point range last season, poured in a season-high 26 points Dec. 20 at Philadelphia, by far his best performance as a Net.
But it was his nine-point, nine-rebound effort in Game 6 against the Raptors that helped to save the Nets’ season, and perhaps made him more attractive to King in free agency.
His return will bring a sense of continuity to a team that has waved goodbye to Kidd, Pierce, Livingston and key reserve Andray Blatche, all within two months of its second-round elimination at the hands of eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami.
Nothing But Net: The Nets could also used newly acquired swingman Sergey Karasev in Pierce’s spot. The 19th overall selection by Cleveland in last year’s draft, who came to Brooklyn in the deal for Cavs point guard Jarrett Jack last week, split last season between the NBA and NBDL, after helping Russia to a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics. … As their roster is currently composed, the Nets’ payroll stands at just under $100 million, pushing them towards $130 million with luxury taxes. That’s still more than $60 million shy of what billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov spent on last season’s squad.