Free Agency 2013

Buss, Lakers Need To Let Dwight Go



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Sooner or later, the Los Angeles Lakers will move on from the pain and suffering associated with the brief Dwight Howard era — later being the operative word here. Because once again, the drama is being stirred by someone in the Lakers’ camp in regards to Howard and just how authentic a Laker he was in his one season in L.A.

Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss fires the latest verbal shot at Howard in an article in The Hollywood Reporter by Ric Bucher that examines the fabled franchise and their current state of affairs in the post-Dr. Jerry Buss era. Times have certainly changed:

Jim insists he’s just following his father’s blueprint, but the Howard situation suggests he missed a page. Instead of Jim spending time with Howard, the team launched a widely derided media campaign that implored “Stay” on billboards. After Howard bolted, Jim turned on his former star, saying he wasn’t surprised or dismayed. “He was never really a Laker,” says Jim. “He was just passing through.”

Those close to Howard say the Lakers could have persuaded him to stay. Even Jeanie believes that if her father had not been sick, he would have sealed the deal like so many before it. “It’s disappointing that Dwight isn’t here,” she says. “I feel like we failed him.”

Clearly, Jim, Jeanie Buss, Kobe Bryant, Magic JohnsonPhil Jackson and anyone else who has ever been associated with the franchise is being asked about Howard incessantly. A simple no comment is in order now. The continued examination and assault on Howard’s character has bordered on ridiculous for weeks now.

Bottom line: the Lakers aren’t doing themselves any favors by answering every question about Howard. He’s moved on to whatever the future holds in Houston. The Lakers need to move on as well. They need to let him go, set themselves free from this drama and concentrate all of their effort on the very real rebuilding campaign that needs to be begin with training camp.

And for the record, they knew that there was a very real possibility that Dwight was “just passing through” when they acquired him via that blockbuster trade last summer. There was always that inherent risk with a player with Howard’s track record. Their miscalculations, their choices (Mike D’Antoni over Jackson to replace coach Mike Brown) are what made the situation untenable for Howard when free agency hit. So blaming him in hindsight for not falling for the disingenuous “stick around, we love you” campaign is weak.

This talk now is just as beneath the Lakers as the whole billboard campaign was when they were trying to convince Howard to stay.

To her credit, Jeanie Buss takes a much more measured approach to this whole thing and it is her words, her tact and, ultimately, her voice that should rule the day inside the franchise on Howard. I’m sure her sensibilities were offended when Howard spurned the Lakers for the Rockets. But you can tell by her response. She insists that the Lakers somehow didn’t handle their business the way should have, the way they would have if her father was spearheading the recruiting charge.

She’s right. Things likely would have been different.

But the Lakers cannot dwell on what might have been anymore. They have to move on and get back to the grind, the same way Howard has in Houston with Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin McHale.

The Lakers need to let Dwight go once and for all.

Pek Gets Five, Love Got Four, So Do The Timberwolves Get Some Angst?

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Helicopters presumably are hovering over Kevin Love at this moment, “Goodfellas”-style, anticipating some sort of cut-and-run, Bronco-chase reaction to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ re-signing Wednesday of center Nikola Pekovic.

Pekovic, you should know, reportedly received a deal worth $60 million over five years. Which, rather famously, is one more year than the extension to which the Wolves signed Love in January 2012. Since-fired exec David Kahn was adamant in not using the designated-player mechanism available to a player coming off his rookie deal to bump Love’s deal (four years, $61 million) to five years. The All-Star power forward took that as a slight, on top of a pure business setback.

Instantly, the opt-out that Love did get built into the extension after the 2014-15 season was seen throughout the NBA as his escape hatch from an unhappy work situation. It’s a perception that continued right through the spring after Love made some comments in a Yahoo! story suggesting he was less than a happy Wolves camper.

So when Flip Saunders, Kahn’s replacement, talked with reporters Wednesday about the Pekovic signing, he was asked about the potential that Love might feel neglected anew, what with the big man next to him – who trails Love in All-Star selections, 2-0, and in Olympic gold, 1-0 – getting a guarantee until the summer of 2018.

“We talked about a lot of things,” Saunders said of his recent conversations with Love. “What I’ve been impressed about Kevin Love, more than anything, Kevin wants to win. As we talked about Pek, he just said, ‘You have to do what you have to do.’

“I think he really understands and he believes that I don’t have a certain way I’m going to do things. I don’t know what’s been done in the past – I really don’t care. So as he said, we’re just moving forward, both on the basketball court and every other thing.”

The Wolves do have that to explain any inconsistency in negotiating tactics. Kahn was Kahn, with whom Love did not click for a variety of reasons, and he’s gone now. As a restricted free agent, Pekovic didn’t have much leverage but then, coming off his rookie deal, neither did Love.

Also, there’s nothing to prevent Love and the Wolves locking the double-double machine in for five seasons with his next extension. Nothing either now, frankly, from the Wolves — with owner Glen Taylor’s needed blessing, of course — using the designated-player slot on Ricky Rubio so that all their main guys are together for the long term.

It might also help sell Love that his agent, Jeff Schwartz, happens to be Pekovic’s guy too. It wouldn’t be cool if Schwartz, in a couple of years, were to turn around and point to the Pekovic deal as a reason for Love’s opt-out exit.

“This signing of Pek,” Saunders said, “will in no way hinder anything having to do with Ricky down the road or with Kevin Love. … This league has proven you have to have, quote-unquote, three star-type players. Three players at their respective positions who are going to be considered probably in the top five in the league.”

As for Love, who is expected to return with a vengeance this fall to delete bad mojo of his 2012-13 lost to a twice-broken hand, Saunders said his inside-outside threat is hitting the offseason hard.

“He’s looking to come in at about the same weight as he did when he had his big breakout year,” Saunders said, saying Love is at 242 now. “He’s doing a lot of cross training. Yoga every day. Some other training, weights. … Shooting. I don’t think he’s over-wearing one part of his body out. He’s got a great attitude, he’s been very involved with both me in conversation and with our organization. I feel extremely confident that he’s showing some leadership.”

If he’s not, there’s always the helicopters. Or easier yet, Twitter.

Pekovic, Wolves Agree To Deal



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – You can finally close the door on the free agent summer of 2013 now that restricted free agent big man Nikola Pekovic has agreed to a five-year, $60 million deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves (as first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.com and confirmed by Wolves boss Flip Saunders).

Pekovic was the last big name on the marquee without a deal this summer, a group headlined by now Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul.

By locking up Pekovic long-term the Timberwolves are now set with a core of All-Star power forward Kevin Love, Pekovic in the middle and point guard Ricky Rubio as the headliner in the backcourt. That’s an excellent place for Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman to start with his playoff plan for the 2013-14 season, provided all of his major players stay healthy. Love missed all but 18 games last season with injuries and Rubio played in 57 games as he returned from knee surgery of his own.

Pekovic emerged as a low-post force for the Timberwolves last season, averaging 16.3 ppg and 8.8 rpg while starting in all 62 games he played in last season. A skilled, 6-foot-11, 290-pounder, Pekovic is the ideal counterpart to pair with Love, whose range extends beyond the 3-point line. They’ll form a dynamic inside-out big man duo for a Timberwolves team that has legitimate playoff aspirations next season.

Signing Pekovic was work Saunders needed to get done as well. After a busy summer that saw them add quality veterans like Corey Brewer, Chase Budinger, Kevin Martin and Ronny Turiaf, keeping Pekovic from unrestricted free agency next summer was an absolute must. Even more important, a deal with Pekovic gives the Timberwolves some much-needed security at the center position going forward.

Olajuwon, Howard Work On ‘Dream Shake’

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From NBA.com staff reports

Roughly a month ago, as the Rockets were basking in the glow of landing Dwight Howard in free agency, plans to bring a Hall of Famer in to improve Howard’s post play started coming into place. Houston’s brass was diligently working to add Hakeem Olajuwon, the master of the “Dream Shake” and the man who led the Rockets to titles in 1994 and ’95, to its coaching staff.

Dream Shake 101 is apparently in session for Howard, as Jason Friedman of Rockets.com was on hand yesterday to watch as Howard got some post-move lessons from Olajuwon. Also in attendance was Rockets coach Kevin McHale. Known to make a post move or two in his day that left defenders befuddled, McHale surely had a couple of low-post pointers for Howard as well.

Enough talk, here are the photos of the workout you’re looking for:

As a member of the Magic, Howard was tutored in the offseason by Olajuwon. He also received instruction from Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing and well-regarded big man coach Clifford Ray during his Orlando days when those men were on the Magic’s staff (at different times).

How Howard is able to incorporate the fleet-footed moves of Olajuwon into his game — and how quickly he can do so — will go a long way in making life easier on the perimeter for James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and the rest of Houston’s crew.

Five Most Underrated Free-Agent Signings

By Jonathan Hartzell, NBA.com

The NBA offseason tends to be dominated by articles and information about the top players in the league. Often forgotten about are the fringe stars and role players on every team who do the little things to help win games.

With this in mind, here are the five most underrated free-agent signings of the 2013-14 offseason:

Earl Clark, Cleveland Cavaliers – 2-years, $9 million

Earl Clark should help the Cavaliers' bench.

Earl Clark should help the Cavaliers’ bench.

Clark instantly fills a void for the Cavaliers and he could help Cleveland make it back to the playoffs. The 6-foot-10 Clark had his best NBA season with the Lakers in 2012-13, averaging 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 23.1 minutes. He will provide valuable length and athleticism off the bench at an extremely affordable rate and, at 25 years old, his game still has a lot of room to grow.

Jose Calderon, Dallas Mavericks – 4-years, $29 million

Jose Calderon's passing ability will be welcomed in Dallas.

Jose Calderon’s passing ability will be welcomed in Dallas.

The Spanish guard played eight seasons with the Toronto Raptors before being traded to the Detroit Pistons midseason. As a Raptor he experienced only one winning season, but he proved to be one of the best distributors in the league. He added a significantly improved 3-point shot last season to finish the season averaging 11.3 points and 7.1 assists on 49.1 percent shooting and a league-leading 46.1 percent from 3-point range. The contract he signed with Dallas this summer is arguably too long and expensive for a player who isn’t a stalwart defender. However, this will prove to be an important deal if Calderon is able to help Dirk Nowitzki lead the Mavericks back into the playoffs.

Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks – 2-years, $19 million

Paul Millsap may have a lot of reasons to smile in Atlanta.

Paul Millsap may have a lot of reasons to smile in Atlanta.

This is a great deal if the Hawks’ plan is to make the playoffs this season. Millsap is one of the most underrated power forwards in the league and incredibly Atlanta signed him to a practically risk-free two-year deal. The 6-foot-8 forward from Louisiana Tech played his first seven NBA seasons with the Jazz and averaged 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals last season. The one negative about this signing? It pushes long-time Hawk Al Horford back to the center spot where he is nowhere near as dominant as he is as a power forward. But when you have the opportunity to bring in a player of Millsap’s talent level, preferred rotations and positions can be worked out later.

C.J. Watson, Indiana Pacers – 2-years, contract terms undisclosed

C.J. Watson

C.J. Watson significantly upgrades the Pacers’ guard depth.

Watson has proven to be one of the NBA’s best backup point guards over the last few seasons and his presence on the Pacers will significantly improve their depth. Watson allows the Pacers to not fall too far behind when starter George Hill rests. Plus, Watson’s ability to handle the ball and shoot from 3-point range (41.1 percent last season) will let Indiana occasionally run a Hill-Watson backcourt. The 6-foot-2 guard spent last season as the top backup for the Nets’ Deron Williams and before that, spent two successful seasons with the Chicago Bulls. Watson knows his role and his ability to consistently perform it makes this a great signing for the Pacers.

Mike Dunleavy, Chicago Bulls – 2-years, $6 million

Mike Dunleavy Jr.

Mike Dunleavy Jr. is a well-skilled and solid NBA veteran.

Dunleavy is an excellent floor-spacer who can consistently knock down 3-point shots at a high rate and provides the Bulls with solid bench depth after the departures of Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli. His presence should help create driving and passing lanes for Derrick Rose, who is reportedly one of the major reasons Dunleavy wanted to play in Chicago. The 32-year-old Dunleavy spent the last two seasons with the Bucks, averaging 10.5 points, 3.9 boards and shot 42.8 percent shooting from 3-point range last season. This signing looks like a terrific deal for  Dunleavy and Chicago as it should help the Bulls reclaim their spot as a championship contender when Rose returns.

Blazers Spend A Little, Get A Lot

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HANG TIME WEST – That whole deep-pockets, big-spender rep… and now this.

OK, so maybe Paul Allen having money is more than image. Mr. 53rd Richest Man in the World. Mr. I Co-Founded a Little Operation Called Microsoft, Mr. Owner of a 414-Foot Yacht. The guy who looks after two on-board submarines knows it goes beyond reputation. Maybe also whoever runs the smaller family liner, the 303-foot dinghy. But just look at what Allen’s Trail Blazers have done in the offseason with the ultimate in fiscal responsibility.

Without trading a player from the rotation, without dealing a future first-round pick, without reaching too far into the boss’ Grand Canyon pockets, there was another reminder Wednesday how the front office of general manager Neil Olshey has built a bench on tough decisions and opportunism. Olshey has, more to the point, moved Portland from 33-49 last season into the heart of the playoff conversation.

The Blazers probably would have been part of the postseason chase pack anyway, waiting to see which Western Conference clubs fall off the pace, but this settles it. The lack of depth was an obvious and predictable problem in 2012-13 … and now here comes the reinforcements. There is still uncertainty (Thomas Robinson), there is still inexperience (C.J. McCollum, Allen Crabbe and Robinson, along with returnee Meyers Leonard) and there are still questions about the defense. Except that there is also no question the roster has been improved with a series of additions at mostly low costs.

Mo Williams: The Wednesday move. The starting point guard for the Jazz last season (when healthy) signed to come off the bench, and maybe as the No. 3 point guard behind Damian Lillard and McCollum, for a reported two years and $5.6 million.

Crabbe: The Pacific 12 Conference Player of the Year was one of the top shooters in the draft. The Cavaliers took him at No. 31. The Blazers got him from Cleveland for a pair of future second-round picks. Crabbe will stick on the roster and has a chance to become a complementary threat with coach Terry Stotts wanting to emphasize the three.

Robin Lopez: He probably starts at center ahead of the still-developing Leonard, a 2012 lottery pick, but it’s depth either way for a team that needed another big. The Blazers got this one for second-round pick Jeff Withey and cash because New Orleans needed to clear cap space to get free-agent Tyreke Evans from the Kings, plus a second-rounder to Sacramento and the option for the Kings to swap second-rounders another year. A rookie (though Withey has a future) and money for a center who can make the Blazers better on defense, a necessary step on the playoff path.

McCollum: The No. 10 pick in June has a chance to be good right away, either playing behind Lillard or with the reigning Rookie of the Year.

Robinson: He would be worth taking a flyer on anyway, the No. 5 pick a year ago who needs time to develop, as everyone knew going into his rookie season, and joins a team that can be patient with LaMarcus Aldridge atop the depth chart. The Kings already dumped Robinson in a mid-season trade to Houston, and then the Rockets needed to clear salary to chase Dwight Howard. The Trail Blazers got Robinson for a pair of future second-round choices and the rights to two former second-rounders now in Europe, Kostas Papanikolaou and Marko Todorovic. That made it especially worth taking a flyer.

Earl Watson: One year at the minimum for leadership and emergency point-guard duty. As a veteran with playoff experience (and Williams’ understudy last season in Utah), Watson can still have an impact even if he doesn’t play many minutes.

Dorell Wright: Two years and $6 million for the veteran to back up Nicolas Batum at small forward and maybe play some shooting guard. The Trail Blazers need Wright to hit threes. If that happens, they will play him anywhere he wants.

Final tally: One probable starter (Lopez), several others who should be in the rotation for one of the better teams in the West, plus a couple others who may be, too, without investing a contract longer than two years or trading a first-round pick or existing player. The Trail Blazers still need a lot of things to go right to make the playoff hopes a reality – Lopez has to protect the rim, Crabbe or Wright have to stretch the defense, either Leonard or Robinson have to show progress – but this is progress.

Reports: Blazers Pick Up Guard Williams

From NBA.com staff reports

One of the last remaining marquee names on the free-agent market, ex-Jazz guard Mo Williams, has found a new home in the same division.

As first reported by CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, Williams will sign a two-year, $5.6 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers. The move keeps the versatile combo guard in the Northwest Division and adds another guard to a Portland roster that also features reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, rookie C.J. McCollum and veterans Earl Watson, Wes Matthews and Dorell Wright.

Portland had its fair share of trouble scoring off the bench last season and has attempted to address that issue by bolstering its bench with more guards and by adding big men Thomas Robinson and Robin Lopez in offseason trades as well.

Free Agency: Still No Deal For Pekovic?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Minnesota Timberwolves have made their position clear. They want restricted free-agent center Nikola Pekovic wearing “Wolves” across his chest for years to come. And they are willing to pay handsomely to make that happen.

It’s that price, however, that is holding up the process.

While the Timberwolves have reportedly slotted Pekovic for a deal in the four-year, $48 million range, the 7-footer’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, is reportedly looking for something in the $15 million a year range, according to 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

That’s a significant gap and one that will require some adept maneuvering from Timberwolves’ boss Flip Saunders, who not only has to work with Schwartz on a deal for Pekovic but also has to keep in mind that they’ll do this dance again when Kevin Love is in the midst of free-agent negotiations before the 2015-16 season. Love can opt out of his current deal then and become a free agent.

It’s a delicate balance for Saunders, crafting a roster capable of competing for a playoff spot now while also maintaining flexibility and fiscal responsibility for the future. It’s a balance that wasn’t managed well by his predecessor, David Kahn. In fact, these sorts of offseason hiccups were supposed to be history in Minneapolis, along with Kahn.

And make no mistake, this is a management issue. Pekovic’s camp has every right to push for the max. In a league where a talented big man always has value even if there is little production to warrant it (Andrew Bynum and Greg Oden come to mind), Schwartz knows that he’s working from high ground with a player like Pekovic.

He averaged 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds and was a consistent inside force for the team while Love was out of the mix for all but 18 games with an injury.

What the Timberwolves have to guard against is allowing this situation with Pekovic to put them in any sort of compromising position down the road with Love, who will indeed command max money of his own if and when he does opt out of his current deal. Love and Ricky Rubio are the current and future cornerstones of the playoff outfit Saunders is trying to build, and that has to be on the minds of everyone within the franchise as they move forward.

Outbidding themselves for Pekovic wouldn’t make a ton of sense at this juncture. But any damage done to the relationship with Schwartz right now could have lasting ramifications down the road, potentially producing consequences the Timberwolves absolutely cannot afford if they are serious about turning their playoff fortunes around.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 127) Featuring Rockets Play-By-Play Announcer Craig Ackerman

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Leave it up to Rick Fox to skip out on his own birthday party on Episode 127 of the Hang Time Podcast.

Perhaps it was for the best, since we spent quite a bit of time discussing his least favorite subject of this free agent summer: Dwight Howard and his moving from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Houston Rockets. (Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni still can’t wrap his head around Howard leaving for Texas.)

While Rick is already on record as being a bit put off by the way Dwight handled himself with the Lakers and with his departure, Rockets play-by-play man Craig Ackerman couldn’t be happier with how things played out.

His phone has been ringing like crazy since Howard joined the Rockets. And things will only get more hectic the closer we get to training camp and the start of the 2013-14 season. He gives us some quality insight on what the Howard era of Rockets basketball will look like from an insider’s perspective and waxes on all things Rockets [sorry Rick].

We also break down the latest news, notes and happenings around the league, including a recap of what we saw during the Las Vegas Summer League, USA Basketball’s mini-camp in Vegas, Brandon Jennings and his fresh start in Detroit and the teams on the rise and fall after a wild July of action in free agency and trades.

You get all of that and so much more on Episode 127 of the Hang Time Podcast: Featuring Rockets Play-By-Play Announcer Craig Ackerman …

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Nets’ Anderson Makes It All Way Back

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — As vibrant as Toronto is as a sports market, as passionate as its fans are for whichever team is working that night, the feeling among some NBA players remains largely unchanged from what it was 18 years ago  when the Raptors joined the league via expansion.

It’s that place up there, with the funky money, the customs checkpoints and defence that’s almost as tricky to spell as it is to play.

But the Air Canada Centre is Madison Square Garden or Staples Center as far as Alan Anderson is concerned. He learned the hard way the difference between basketball outposts and basketball outposts.

“Well, you go to China and to Italy and Russia and all those places, and you’ll see Toronto as the NBA,” Anderson said in a phone interview this week, after taking his physical and wrapping up paperwork on his two-year contract with the Brooklyn Nets.

He didn’t mention Croatia or Israel, or Tulsa, Albuquerque or Canton for that matter. But he didn’t need to. This NBA dream of his, a dream that nearly died overseas or grinding through the D-League for four seasons and nearly five years that could have been his basketball prime, is alive and well.

What’s dead is any shred of entitlement or arrogance or even self-pity that Anderson might have had about deserving better than what he got from 2007, when the Charlotte Bobcats were done with him, to March 2011 when the Raptors finally called.

The 6-foot-6 wing player from Minneapolis didn’t need much more humility, mind you, after going undrafted out of Michigan State in 2005, landing with Charlotte for a year and a fraction, then getting his passport stamped like Jason Bourne for the next several seasons. But the harder he pressed, the farther away he seemed to get. How often did he doubt he’d get another shot?

“Always,” Anderson said. “Once I left, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, how long is it going to take me to get back? When am I getting back?’ And after a year goes by, two years go by…

“Actually, it was worse for me when I was thinking like that. That didn’t help me out at all. Once I started thinking about where I was at and winning a championship where I was at [in Croatia in 2009, in Spain in 2011], it started getting easier and I started seeing the NBA at the end of the tunnel.”

Anderson is forever indebted to former Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo and current head coach Dwane Casey for the call that finally came. In February 2011, he had come back from a completed season in China with hopes of a 10-day deal in Washington that never panned out. His agent Mark Bartelstein suggested that, beyond his individual workouts, Anderson head back to the D-League to keep his game sharp.

Shrewd move: He joined the Canton Charge, played eight games, averaged 21.5 points and shot 55 percent from the floor while helping them in a late playoff run and caught Toronto’s eye.

“He said to me, ‘Mark, just get me one more opportunity in the league. If you do, I’ll take advantage of it,’ “ Bartelstein said. “And that’s exactly what he did.”

Anderson stuck through two 10-day deals and the few days left in 2011-12 after that. He was back last season, averaging 10.7 points and 23 minutes off the bench, helping the Raptors to a 31-34 mark when he played [3-14 when he didn’t]. He scored 20 points or more eight times, including a 35-point performance against the Knicks on March 22, which might have been all the resume he needed to grab Brooklyn’s attention.

Now, Anderson is headed onto one of the league’s grandest stages, with the newly configured Nets battling the Knicks for New York and Atlantic Division supremacy. He’ll be a relatively anonymous role player on a roster now crammed with marquee names and proven veterans, eager to back up Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson as needed, flesh out a vastly improved Brooklyn bench and team with Kevin Garnett. Anderson first met Garnett back in Minnesota in 1997, when he was headed to De LaSalle High and Garnett was all of 21, working a summer camp.

“For someone growing up in the inner city, where I came from, we loved watching KG play and everything he brought,” said Anderson, who plays with a little on-court edge himself. “When I finally go to meet him, he was talking to me like we already knew each other as friends. That was big for me.”

So many years later, Anderson has a chance to help make Garnett’s twilight time special. He’s no kid himself –- Anderson will turn 31 in the preseason –- but his NBA miles are low and his adrenaline is spiking.

“I don’t think I do anything great, but I think I do everything pretty good,” said Anderson, whose minimum contract includes a player option for 2014-15. “I can spot-shoot, I can rebound, I defend, I can create, I can pass. Me being versatile, it can come down to me –- if we’re in a shooting slump or we need to get to the basket or need to get to the free-throw line, I think I’m capable of doing all of that.”

Anderson calls this gig a “blessing.” Bartelstein considers it a “wonderful story.”

“Alan’s a guy who just wanted desperately to get back to the NBA,” the agent said. “To be on a stage like he’s going to be on in Brooklyn, I’m so happy for the guy. A lot of people counted Alan out and thought his NBA career was over. So, to come back from playing internationally and rebuilding his career to levels that a lot of people didn’t think he could do, it speaks volumes about his perseverance and how hard he’s worked.”