INSIDE THE ROCKETS

Ryan Anderson: Return to the Rockets is "full circle"

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Ryan Anderson approached his media scrum after training camp practice on Saturday as if he was meeting an old group of friends. "It's good to see you guys again," Anderson said, with smiles all around. "It feels like I never left."

Anderson is, of course, referencing his two-year tenure with the Houston Rockets that ended last summer when he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. Anderson found tremendous success with the Rockets, providing quality floor spacing that helped form the identity of the team that would eventually go toe-to-toe with the Golden State Warriors and almost win. After a year of bouncing from team to team, seemingly in NBA purgatory, Anderson landed back with the Rockets this summer. To say he relished the opportunity to return to his old stomping ground is an understatement.

"It's an amazing feeling," Anderson said. "It's an easy adjustment back with this group. The system is obviously the same. Just playing the other day for the first time again with these guys, it's like there's no adjustment period."

While the Rockets haven't formally promised him a roster spot, Anderson was offered a minimum deal with $250,000 being guaranteed money, significantly more than players like Anthony Bennet, Michael Frazier, and Ben McLemore. Anderson also has familiarity with a lot of the players, Mike D'Antoni's system, and the way Houston wants to play so it gives him a real leg up on some of the newcomers. The way things currently stand, there's a strong chance he won't have to sell the condo he bought (and kept) in Houston several years ago.

"This team has, just like when I was here a few years ago, high hopes to win a championship," Anderson said. "The less time I take to get adjusted to the system in the right way, the better. I'm ready to help the team the best I can."

Although, Anderson isn't just satisfied with grabbing a roster spot. After a brutal season in which he only logged 25 games and 322 minutes, he wants to prove to the NBA that he can still contribute to a contender. After being much maligned for his contract and traded to clean up Houston's financial situation last season, Anderson struggled to find consistent roles with both the Phoenix Suns and the Miami Heat. A tough journey he describes as "humbling."

"Obviously I would like to bounce back from last year," said Anderson. "It feels good to be back with a group that has an identity. I know what that identity is and what the main goal is. I feel really good to be back. That's just how life is sometimes. It's full circle."

Anderson averaged 11.6 points and 4.8 rebounds on 39.6% three-point shooting when he played for Houston. Before signing Anderson, the Rockets had a noticeable hole at backup power forward plus a need for size and floor spacing. Houston isn't a team known to making novelty signings. Anderson will have an opportunity to earn real minutes and play a role if he proves himself viable in training camp.

"My journey has been one of many mental struggles," Anderson said. "Last year was a tough challenge for me. Something that I've never experienced before. It was difficult. I feel very fortunate to be very to be where I'm at right now. To have a chance to play for a great team, to produce, and to do what I can do. This team knows me very well and knows what I'm capable of. I feel very fortunate to be back here."

4th and a Mile with Paul Muth

Gyms, Astros, power rankings, and trial by combat

A lot can go wrong here. Photo by Joshua Jordan

So I was at the gym Tuesday. Not bragging.

I've never been a fan of gyms. I like lifting, but I don't like gyms. I don't like the music (even if I actually like the music), I don't like the culture, I don't like vibe. But I also don't own a squat rack, and unless I can guarantee that my landlord won't take away my deposit for doing deadlifts in the kitchen, it's off to the gym I go.

Even if everything is perfectly fine, I unwittingly go out of my way to find things that annoy me every time. I'm constantly looking for more reasons to dislike gyms, like watching the guy with a sleeveless black button down over his red short-sleeved under armour shirt and cargo pants sitting at the lat pulldown machine for 5 minutes having a conversation through his airpods without attempting a single rep.

Now I'm not gym gatekeeping, I'm not qualified to do so even if I wanted to. I'm just grumpy. I want to be alone but I don't have the option so everything bugs me. My big giant over-the-ear headphones should suggest my preference for solitude.

So Tuesday.

I'm over by the dumbells, near a bench. Nothing of mine is on the bench. I AM NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE BENCH.

I'm about to start a set of 15 reps. I tighten my wrist straps. Deep breath. Let's get it.

I'm facing the mirror and I see a guy approaching from behind, eyeballing that stupid bench. He stops at it and begins to stare at me.

I don't like gyms. I close my eyes to focus on finishing my set. That's when I felt him tap my shoulder.

Now this dude isn't part of the "New Year, New Me," crowd. He's this jacked little guy who has obviously spent enough time in a gym to understand that one of the cardinal sins within the Iron Temple is interrupting a set for anything short of life, limb, or loss of eyesight.

As my eyes summoned the power of a thousand suns to glare through his spaghetti strap "Beast Mode" tank top, I ripped my headphones off and whipped around to find out what was so important.

"Are you using this bench?"

I'll let you imagine what happened next, but it wasn't cordial.

I don't like gyms.

To the Astros Apologists

This advice is coming from someone who has gone to at least 30 games a season for the past four years. I've got excel spreadsheets documenting every game. I've traveled across the country for years just to catch Astros away games, and I've got an Orbit tattoo that's hard to show off in the winter. I've lived and breathed this team as long as I can remember. With that said:

Stop.

After reading reddit comments, tweets, Facebook posts, and even a few radio listener call-ins, there seems to be this idea that Astros fans should "accept being a villian," and adopt an "us against the world" mentality.

This chapter in the Astros franchise ended much like Adam Sandler's latest movie, "Uncut Gems." It ends so abruptly, that in the midst of the whiplash you're caught trying to see if there was something that was missed, and if in fact it's actually over.

It's over. The investigation is over. The Astros unequivocally cheated, and when you wake up tomorrow, they will still have cheated regardless of how mad you are about the whole thing. Adopting some "us against the world" mentality says more about your values than it does your fanhood. So let's ease off that approach and find a different way to cope.

Instead, take it on the chin. I'm not saying abandon your team, but just because it's a thing you love doesn't mean you should blindly defend the indefensible. We all knew that one kid growing up who would get into all kinds of trouble, but was never disciplined because his mom believed he was an angel who could do no wrong. Don't be that mom. Own that they messed up, handle it however you want, but don't defend them.

I'm still not sure how to process the whole thing myself. It's like looking back on fond memories with someone after you learned they cheated on you. I don't think it's enough to end the relationship, but I do need some time to step back and reassess.

World Power Rankings of the Week

#5 James Harden's new 'do

I wasn't sure if the braids were hanging around, but our dude is lookin' slick these days and Reddit's r/Rockets is having a mild meltdown over it.

#4 Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Durant's twitter beef

Honestly, all twitter beef is gold, but this week offered some solid haymakers from retired big man Kendrick Perkins, and the NBA all-time record holder for feelings per minute, Kevin Durant. Perk called KD a quitter, KD told Perk he was trash, and down the hill we went. I'm a sucker for NBA drama and it rarely disappoints.

#3 Leonardo DiCaprio, Lifesaver

Imagine having fallen off a cruise liner and treading water for roughly 11 hours. The thought of a rescue would begin to seem dim. Now imagine a glistening yacht arriving out of nowhere and plucking you from your impending watery grave. That's already a pretty awesome way to elude death's icy grip. Finding out who this yacht belonged to must have been pretty sweet as well.

#2 Anything Derrick Henry does in January

Anyone watching the playoffs next to me during any Titans game has since become tired of me reminding everyone that his nickname is "Tractorsito." He's throwing touchdowns, he's stiff arm spinning opponents and pushing them into their own teammates. He's also more than doubling his quarterback's passing yards (160) with his rushing yards (377) throughout the playoffs.

#1 Trial by combat

I'm down for it anytime, anywhere. As a spectator. Especially when you're requesting it from a judge toward your ex and her attorney during a custody battle so that you can "rend their souls" from their bodies. Not sure I'd want that on record, but ok.



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