James Anderson getting close to return to Spurs
Being injured sucks. Not only do you not get to play, but you spend a lot of time away from your teammates, guys who you (hopefully) like to hang around.Â You have to sit behind the bench during games, there’s less time in the locker room with the guys and oftentimes you stay behind on road trips to rehab.
Instead, there’s a whole lot of time working with trainers and strength and conditioning coaches. I would imagine that when you’re working with them, they’re not much fun to be around.
And when your team jumps out to a league-best 37-7 record and gets as much glory as a small market team can get, well, it can be a bit frustrating. That’s exactly the road James Anderson has been traveling down that past couple of months.
Just seven games into the season, Anderson suddenly ended up with a broken foot. The two month timetable for Anderson’s return came and went, but the Spurs wanted to be careful and not rush him back too soon. His workload increased slowly over the last few weeks and now,Â he will soon be joining the Austin Toros for a short spell in the D-League to get his rhythm back.
You wouldn’t blame Anderson if he’s a bit frustrated at this point in the season. Anderson missed most of the summer with a hamstring injury and now he’s missing most of what is on pace to be the Spurs’ best regular season in franchise history.
You may have noticed that James Anderson was in uniform for the Spurs’ 101-92 win over the New York Knicks on Friday night. That was by design, as Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich and his staff monitor players’ morale.
“Heâ€™s going to suit up, but he wonâ€™t play,” Coach Pop said before the game. “Weâ€™re just doing it for fun so he can put on a uniform and be with the guys, that kind of thing.”
Coach Pop said he would only put Anderson in if the Spurs were up by 20 or down by 20, and even then, “Iâ€™ll put him in and tell him to just run up and down and get a sweat. Donâ€™t rebound, donâ€™t guard, donâ€™t do anything.” But alas, it was a close game and Anderson never made an appearance.
Anderson is not on San Antonio’s current road trip, staying behind in San Antonio before heading to the D-League for a rehab stint. But it’s a good sign that the Spurs coaches and front office members are keeping tabs on how the players’ mental conditioning is. Anderson’s situation isn’t near as dire as players like Greg Oden or Yao Ming, but it’s still tough.
Coming to a veteran team like the Spurs, there had to be some inkling in Anderson’s mind that he would spend a lot of time on the bench. But he came out and averaged more than 17 minutes per game to start the season and is instead riding the bench because of injury. But he’s close to a February return to the Spurs, and if he can adjust as quickly to the NBA as when the season started, the Spurs won’t have to give up anything at the trade deadline to add a new piece to the rotation.