Ryan Anderson doesn’t know what the future holds.
He has 21 games left to play this season and, beyond that, the Pelicans forward doesn’t know what uniform he’ll wear, what city he’ll call home.
He could remain in New Orleans. He could sign somewhere else in free agency.
What Anderson knows is that, right now, he wants to play. And he has been doing less of that lately.
In the Pelicans’ past two games, he has played 12 minutes, 52 seconds and 22 minutes, 20 seconds. The former, against San Antonio on Thursday, marked a season low in minutes. The latter, Saturday against Utah, was his fifth-lowest total of the season.
“I’m a basketball player,” Anderson said Sunday. “I love playing basketball. I want to be out there as much as possible, but I understand. I’m not a coach. I’m not in control of certain situations. I want to play, but I don’t even know if there’s a specific reason. If there is one, I haven’t really been approached with anything. I haven’t been talked (to) about anything. It happens. It’s part of the game.”
Over the past two games, Anderson has averaged 4.3 minutes per fourth quarter. He played a little more than 5 fourth-quarter minutes against the Jazz after sitting the entire fourth against the Spurs.
“That doesn’t have anything to do with (anything other) than simply the matchups,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “(Utah) had two big guys in there in (Rudy) Gobert and (Derrick) Favors, and we struggled the last time we tried to do that with two big guys in there. (Anderson) is going to play a lot of minutes.”
Anderson said he hadn’t discussed his reduced minutes with the coaching staff, and he didn’t intend to.
“I think we have enough going on,” Gentry said of the Pelicans, who are 23-38 and riding a four-game losing streak into Monday’s 7 p.m. home game against Sacramento. “I don’t really want to add more to the pot. I think the coaching staff knows that I can help the team score, so there must be a reason that they have, and I assume it would be a good reason for them. Maybe it’s defensive purposes — I don’t know. It’s just two games. It hasn’t been a whole season of it or something.”
In the short term, Anderson wants more minutes in New Orleans. His long-term wishes are less clear.
Although the Pelicans didn’t move him at last month’s trade deadline, Anderson said he has had no conversations with management about his willingness to consider New Orleans once he becomes a free agent this summer. He has made it clear he intends to test the free-agent market.
“Anything can happen, really. Anything can happen,” he said. “I’ve never been a part of free agency being an unrestricted free agent. Don’t know what it’s like, don’t know what it’s going to be like, don’t know who’s going to come into play at all. It’s something I’ll definitely approach then.”
Whether Anderson ends up back with the Pelicans or elsewhere, he’ll look back on these past four years in New Orleans as “a lot of highs and a lot of lows,” he said, and as a time when he “grew up a lot.”
Anderson on Sunday said he “could have never imagined going through” what he has in New Orleans. His girlfriend, Gia Allemand, committed suicide in August 2013, a tragedy that then-Pelicans coach Monty Williams and his family helped guide Anderson through. Last month, Williams’ wife, Ingrid, was killed in a car wreck in Oklahoma City.
“This game can frustrate you,” Anderson said. “It can get in your head. But there’s more important things in life. I think that’s definitely what it’s taught me here. This four years has been the big molding point of my life, I think, to really change my mind, how I think about life in general. It’s changed me outside of basketball more than it has inside of basketball.”
On the court, Anderson has dealt with disappointment, perhaps never more than this season. The Pelicans were expected to be a playoff contender, but they entered Sunday six games out of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
It has made for a challenging year — “It’s a situation I know that everybody’s feeling,” Anderson said — and Anderson admits to feeling frustration.
“I’m a guy that wears my emotions on my sleeve,” he said. “So unfortunately that’s what I do, and sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes it’s a bad thing. When I’m frustrated out on the court or on the bench, you can tell, and that’s something I’ve got to work on.
“But that’s me. I don’t really know how to be not me.”