Not long ago, Chris Andersen was seen as a pariah. He was banned from the NBA for at least two years for violating the NBA’s drug policy in 2006, and, though he never faced charges, he was investigated for child pornography last year (that turned out to be an apparent extortion attempt).
But the Heat took a chance on him in January with a 10-day contract, then another and, eventually, a contract through the rest of the season.
Andersen respond in a big way. He had arguably the best regular-season per-minute production of his career, and then – even considering his foolish Game 6 suspension in the Eastern Conference Finals and getting benched during the NBA Finals – he followed it with an even better playoff run. In the postseason, Andersen shot a red-hot 81 percent.
This is often the time players like Andersen, who will become a free agent this offseason, attempt to cash in for a bigger contract. But that might not be his approach.
Andersen’s agent confirmed to FOX Sports Florida the Birdman wants to re-sign with the Heat.
“He put it clearly,’’ said Mark Bryant. “(The Heat) gave him an opportunity and he absolutely wants to come back.’’
Of course, players almost always say they want to stay with their current team. It doesn’t always come true.
But I think it will be true for Andersen for a few reasons.
1. His agent sounds awfully emphatic.
2. Andersen just won a title, and that always leaves a positive taste in a player’s mouth.
3. The Heat truly gave Andersen an opportunity he probably wouldn’t have received from any other NBA team, a chance to play this season.
4. Andersen might not get the big-money offers that usually convince players in his boat to sign elsewhere. He turns 35 in a couple weeks, so non-contending teams probably won’t have interest. Many contenders don’t have the cap room to spend considerably more than the Heat – the difference between the taxpayer mid-level exception and the portion of the non-taxpayer Andersen could get probably isn’t significant enough to turn him – and everyone will see him how the Heat do: a cheap big man who provides great value in a specific role but probably can’t do much else.
Andersen fits very well with the Heat, and although most free agents are more unpredictable at this time of year, he’ll probably re-sign in Miami.