Raptorsí Anderson well-travelled

Toronto Raptors forward Alan Anderson, left, defends against Atlanta Hawks guard Willie Green in...

Toronto Raptors forward Alan Anderson, left, defends against Atlanta Hawks guard Willie Green in the second half of their NBA basketball game in Atlanta, Georgia April 15, 2012. (REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:11 PM ET

MIAMI -- Alan Anderson is a live-in-the-moment kind of guy. It's not so much what he has always been as what basketball has made him.

Since signing as an undrafted free agent with the Charlotte Bobcats in 2005 and spending two years with the organization, one at the NBA level, the other with the Bobcats D-League team, Anderson has never been with the same team for more than a season.

His travels have taken him from the NBA to the D-League and on to several European stops from Moscow to Italy and even into China, no one stop lasting longer than a calendar year.

And as much as he would like to settle down with the Raptors who kept him around for two 10-day contracts before signing him for the remainder of the year, he won't let himself even think about the possibilities.

At the very least, Anderson has played himself into the conversation for next year. Dwane Casey will tell you that much, but it's like Anderson is even afraid to consider the possibility.

"I don't even worry about next year," Anderson said following a practice in Miami on Thursday. "I can't worry about next season if I don't handle right now. It's good that I'm signed for the rest of the year, but I'm still playing like this might be my last time, you know what I mean? That would be nice. I feel a lot of confidence in the coaching staff, teammates and the organization. But then again, you never know.

"If I play Sunday's game like I'm worried about next year, then I'm already looking too far ahead."

Anderson admits he hasn't always been like this. There was a time when he allowed himself to think ahead to the next season.

"Ever since I left Charlotte, like in Europe, I played one year, one year, one year, one year, one year," Anderson said. "I never had anything more than one year.

"Earlier, younger, I did, I thought about where I was going to play next year, where I was going to be, things like that," he said. "Now, it's like, man, I'm just happy to be here. I'm doing everything I can to help out that day, that game. I'm just doing it. I'm not even worried about the next year or anything like that."

There are those in the world who require a place to call home. Anderson is not one of them. His only constant these past six years has been a return to Las Vegas in the off-season where he trains.

"Other than that, I don't have a set place that I live in," he said.

Casey sounds like he may want to break that streak, but even he can't say for sure.

As comfortable as he is with Anderson in the starting lineup this season, a place he's been for the past nine games, Casey can't know right now how his roster is going to set up for next year. He can have an idea but with free agency and potential trades who knows what the landscape will look like.

And then there's the James Johnson factor. Anderson might provide Casey a comfort level knowing he will do the right thing at the right time, but he can't provide the athleticism and wow-factor Johnson has shown for good chunks of the year.

Anderson basically got Johnson's starting spot after Johnson was benched for a couple of games for an indiscretion the team has kept in house. But even after serving his time and returning to the lineup he did so behind Anderson.

"James is more athletic, probably more explosive than Alan," Casey said recently. "Alan is more of the steady rock type. James is still doing a little too much probing. He'll make one great play and then two bad plays. We have to get that to where it's more consistent."

Hearing just that would suggest Anderson has the edge at the moment. The fact that he has started over Johnson for the past nine games, seven of them with Johnson coming off the bench suggests the same.

But then Casey throws in this qualifier.

"James has played much better the past couple of games," he said. "He went through a slump there a little bit but he has really gotten better. He's also been playing the three and the four which is a tough combination for him."

Also working in Johnson's favour is the fact he's far from a finished product. At the age of 25, Johnson has not reached his peak.

Casey along with his staff and GM Bryan Colangelo may have to pick between Johnson's potential and Anderson's steadiness. Casey admits if it comes to that it won't be an easy decision.

"With upside, the sky is the limit for James," Casey says of Johnson, "whereas with Alan what you see is what you get. He's kind of a dirt worker kind of guy. He's going to do it through grind and grit every night and we need that. We have to have that going forward. That type of player that is mentally tough. You still have to have potential. You still have to have guys with great upside but to get to the playoffs and get into the money you have to have that grind and grit with skill and that's what Alan Anderson is."

That versus what James Johnson might become is the tough part.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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