Rhino, in his first season as the Magic’s starting power forward, has had a breakout season, averaging career highs in points (16.6) and rebounds (6.7).
He was one of the most likely candidates from the 2008 NBA Draft class to be signed to an extension, but he will be a restricted free agent after the season. If he follows through with those numbers, he will inevitably be offered a contract elsewhere. So why not re-sign him?
The Magic could match any offer, as they did with former players J.J. Redick and Marcin Gortat after their rookie contracts expired. The Magic stand to spend more money by not re-signing Anderson right now; however, given the Dwight Howard situation, it’s the right move.
With Dwight’s impending trade/free agency, the Magic need as much roster flexibility as possible. If Dwight signs elsewhere after the season, the Magic need all the cap space they can in order to rebuild and bring in another free agent.
Without Dwight, this team will need to rebuild. The team was intended to be structured to play to Dwight Howard's strengths. If the Magic are unable to retain Dwight, their offense will change, and Anderson’s value to the team will change with it.
Anderson is a stretch 4 who has not proven in his career that he can create his own shot. He has benefited from Dwight Howard’s presence, as Howard constantly draws a double-team. Often left wide open for threes, Anderson may not find it so easy to get open in other offensive schemes.
There is a lot of buzz going around about Anderson in the NBA this season, but his suitor list may be shorter than his numbers may indicate.
In Stan Van Gundy’s system, the power forward is expected to stay out of Dwight Howard’s way in the paint and camp out behind the three-point line, a la Rashard Lewis. Anderson’s success lies in the fact that someone else on the team is being doubled, and he is open.
He is a product of the system he plays under, and his future value is directly connected with playing with a player like Dwight Howard. Unfortunately for Ryan, there is only one Dwight Howard.