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TDS Exclusive: Ryan Anderson on his return to the Rockets

In an exclusive interview with TDS, Ryan Anderson talks about his return to the Rockets and how he can help the team win a championship next season. 

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes, life has a funny way of coming full circle.

Houston Rockets forward Ryan Anderson arrived at The Post Hotel in Uptown Houston last Friday full of joy and excitement.

In one way, Anderson’s emotions were just like his teammates’. Each member of the organization who spoke at the Rockets Media Day was over-excited for the upcoming season — as James Harden and Russell Westbrook expressed the team’s eagerness to begin the journey towards an NBA title next June.

On the other, his joy might have actually surpassed that of his teammates due to the pure happiness of being back in Houston. It’s a piece of joy that took a year in the making for Anderson.

“Coming back to this team means a lot to me. This team felt like an easy fit and it almost feels like I never left. This is an amazing group that has so much talent, and I’m just proud to be apart of it again. It feels like home here, and I am extremely happy.”

Anderson’s return to the Rockets could not have come at a better time in his career. Following his departure in a trade to the Phoenix Suns for Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss, the 2019 season was one full of frustration and confusion for the 31-year-old forward.

Playing for two teams with no sense of purpose and identity made it a wash season for Anderson. As a veteran on a young and inexperienced Suns team, he rarely saw the court in Phoenix, averaging 18.5 minutes across 15 games. Following a trade to the Miami Heat, his situation worsened, as he appeared in just 10 games and averaged less than five minutes per contest.

While searching for the next destination to continue his career, comfort and peace were the top two elements that played a part in his decision to return to the Rockets.

“Last season was one of those seasons I could have never anticipated or expected. It was tough for me because I did not know where I fit nor what my role was. And obviously, not playing made things more difficult for me. I wanted a season of comfort and peace, and that played a huge factor in me coming back.”

During his first stint in Houston, Anderson played a vital role in the Rockets’ success. The 6’10” sharpshooting big from the University of California averaged 11.6 points and was tailor-made to play in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, shooting 40% from behind the arc.

Rejoining a familiar system, Anderson views his second stint as an opportunity to help the Rockets win, as well as a place to prove that he still has a lot left in the tank.

“This is an opportunity where my skill set can help win games. I can still shoot the ball and that is nothing that will ever leave me. I know how to play in this system. I know my game fits, and it is needed on this team. I know what I can bring to this ball club, and I still have a lot to prove.”

That approach is commonly beneficial for Anderson and the Rockets. While playing alongside a backcourt that features Harden and Westbrook, Anderson’s on-court skill set may be more valuable during his second stop in Clutch City than in his first.

What a dynamic duo. Those two guys are incredible players and the chemistry is going to be there from the start. From myself, what do I do? I spread the court, and I space the floor. I think you need that as much as possible with those two guys. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

For however long he is with the Rockets, that will be Anderson’s role. So far, it seems like the perfect match.

As he prepares for his 11th season, Anderson has overcome many trials in his life, and proving his worth to make the Rockets’ final 12-man rotation is the latest hurdle to climb. Regardless of the outcome, this latest challenge will be used as another opportunity for the new proud father to continue his growth as a person.

“It’s crazy and you never anticipate where life is going to take you — especially with basketball. It led me back here, and it is amazing how life comes at you in full circle.”