Before forward Ryan Anderson joined New Orleans July 11 via a sign-and-trade, the Jazz were involved in talks to acquire the former Orlando sharpshooter, The Salt Lake Tribune has learned.
The Hornets unexpectedly added Anderson toward the end of the free-agency moratorium period. New Orleans was only forced to give up second-year power forward Gustavo Ayon, while Anderson — a restricted free agent — received a four-year deal worth a reported $34 million.
The 6-foot-10, 240-pound Anderson averaged career highs in points (16.1) and rebounds (7.7) for the Magic during the 2011-12 season. He shot 39 percent behind the 3-point line in 61 games (all starts), and was named NBA Comeback Player of the Year after leading the league in made 3s (166).
For a time, the Jazz rivaled New Orleans as a potential destination for Anderson. Utah entered free agency targeting the wing position and in desperate need of outside shooting — the Jazz ranked 28th out of 30 teams in average made 3s last season and 27th in shooting percentage.
To acquire Anderson, Utah likely would have been forced to give up power forward Paul Millsap. While the Jazz were interested in Anderson and considered making the deal, Utah ultimately backed off. Anderson was later sent to New Orleans, and the Jazz addressed their perimeter needs by signing unrestricted free agent guard Randy Foye on July 23. Utah also traded for small forward Marvin Williams during early July.
The Jazz initiated talks with Millsap in late July for a three-year contract extension. Initial indications are the six-year veteran will enter free agency next summer.
Millsap, 27, averaged 16.6 points and a career-high 8.8 rebounds while shooting 49.5 percent from the field in 64 games (62 starts) last season. He's expected to battle 21-year-old Derrick Favors for Utah's starting power forward position once training camp begins in October.
Brian T. Smith