Former Spur Derek Anderson revisits 2002 free agency

Derek AndersonIf you ever wondered what happened to former San Antonio Spurs guard Derek Anderson, you're in luck. Raul Barrigon over at HoopsHype recently interviewed the former Kentucky Wildcat, where he had some pretty interesting things to say about current Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford.

For those who don't remember, Anderson signed with the Spurs for one year back in the summer of 2000, instantly catapulting San Antonio back into contender status. Anderson played all 82 games while averaging 15.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists, helping the Spurs to a 58-24 record, good enough for the top seed in the West.

Then a flagrant foul from Juwan Howard separated his shoulder and ended his season in the second round against the Mavericks. The Spurs would advance to the Western Conference Finals without Anderson, but were swept by the Lakers.

Heading into the off-season, Anderson was very vocal about his contract situation and didn't hide his displeasure with the Spurs front office. And it's obvious some of that anger and hurt still remains.

Your best season was probably 2001 with the Spurs because after that you ended up getting a six-year contract worth $48 million with the Portland Trail Blazers, right?

DA: Yeah, I had a great season, great team, great teammates… The general manager at the time was very disrespectful. The coach, teammates were great, the city and fans were supergreat… I just didn't like the general manager at all.

The GM you're talking about is RC Buford.

DA: Yeah. I think he learned, after I left, that you can't be rude to people and expect them to stay [laughs].

I think that's the very first time I hear some criticism towards Buford. Seems like he's always making the right decisions.

DA: Yeah he does know. But look what he did. He had to learn. …when you core team like we had and a coach like [Gregg] Popovich, they would have won against the Lakers every year if you had me.

The general manager at the time of Anderson's free agency was Gregg Popovich. Buford wasn't promoted to Pop's role until the summer of 2002. Anderson also mentions the Spurs offered him a four-year, $28 million contract, but in reality the Spurs upped their offer to six-years, $40 million.

But none of that matters anymore. Anderson was traded to Portland along with Steve Kerr, for Steve Smith. Kerr would be traded back to San Antonio a year later. The Spurs signed David Robinson for two more years, drafted and signed Tony Parker, and then brought over Manu Ginobili the next summer. The rest is history.

Meanwhile, Anderson never really returned to form or became the difference maker he was thought to be. Injuries plagued his career and he found himself out of the league in 2008.

About John Diaz

John is a University of Houston student studying journalism and a jack of all trades (but master of none) for the Project Spurs Network. His other titles include managing editor of Spurs on Sixth and associate editor of Texas Redzone Report. You may follow him on Twitter @byjohndiaz.