It’s been almost a month since the Dallas Mavericks traded forward Justin Anderson to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Anderson still recalls how the news floored him.
“I was pretty shocked,” Anderson said prior to Friday’s game against the Mavs. “I was getting ready to go to practice and I got called into coach [Rick Carlisle’s] office, and it went down that way. It was quick.”
And it shook Anderson’s world.
Suddenly, he went from a veteran team vying for a playoff spot in the Western Conference to a young rebuilding team in the East that hasn’t reached the postseason in five seasons.
Still, Anderson is appreciative of his 20-month stay with the Mavs, who selected him 21st overall in the 2015 draft.
I was getting ready to go to practice and I got called into coach [Rick Carlisle’s] office, and it went down that way. It was quick.
Justin Anderson learning how the Mavericks traded him to Philadelphia
“It’s a place that kind of raised me and taught me what the NBA was, what it meant,” Anderson said of the Mavs. “It was everything to me.
“It was all I knew. So when that’s the case, you take everything that happens there to heart. Now that I’m somewhere else, you kind of take what you learned there, but then you also pick up a lot of new things.”
In 10 games with the Sixers, Anderson is averaging 6.6 points and 3.7 rebounds. That includes 19-point games against Milwaukee and New York.
Sixers coach Brett Brown acknowledged that Anderson, 23, fits perfectly on his roster.
“I think first he’s an educated person, he’s a good person. He’s competitive and he’s got a body that impressed you immediately,” Brown said. “The fact that he can catch and shoot, I hope at a reliable percent – we’re studying that more and we’re watching him – we’re hoping that really becomes a very large part of his game.
“I think that he’s fit in all over the place, more importantly, just as a teammate. He’s a very easy addition to what is a very close team.”
Anderson remembers the close-knit team he left behind. His locker at American Airlines Center was next to Dirk Nowitzki, who talked with him after the Feb. 23 trade that sent Anderson, Andrew Bogut and a protected 2017 first-round pick to the Sixers for center Nerlens Noel.
“[Nowitzki said] just that he’s going to miss me, keep working hard, and I’ve got a great future in the league as long as I stay in the gym and work like he showed me,” Anderson said. “With him, a lot of things don’t need to be said just because he kind of, earlier in my rookie year, he kind of gave me the nod of approval that I can be pretty good in this league.
“He told me just don’t stop working. And when I got that from him, it meant everything. So I haven’t stopped since.”
Anderson did regret missing Nowitzki become the sixth NBA player to score at least 30,000 points.
I made sure to wait and congratulate him [Friday] in person because something like that deserves more than just a text message.
Anderson about Dirk Nowitzki reaching 30,000 career points
“The way he did it, catching fire, I remember watching it on my phone and he just couldn’t miss,” Anderson said. “They kept feeding him and he just kept letting it fly.
“I made sure to wait and congratulate him [Friday] in person because something like that deserves more than just a text message. I was really excited to be able to tell him congrats and everything.”
Anderson credited Carlisle for being very influential in his basketball career. Yet he knows a change sometimes can be a positive.
“You see that there’s a lot of different outlooks and perspectives around the league,” Anderson said. “I think it’s great for my growth, and like I said, I’m really glad to be here.”