Spurs trade retrospective: Derek Anderson to the Blazers for Steve Smith
By Rob Wolkenbrod
Over 17 years ago, the San Antonio Spurs moved Derek Anderson and Steve Kerr to the Portland Trail Blazers for Steve Smith. Let’s look back on this offseason trade.
The San Antonio Spurs potentially made the biggest trade in franchise history this summer, with the move of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors. Despite the organization rarely making moves with other teams, it’s hardly their first time making a significant deal in the offseason.
Let’s go back to 2001, two years after the first championship team. The Spurs were just 58-24 and the No. 1 overall seed, but the Kobe Bryant–Shaquille O’Neal Los Angeles Lakers swept them in four games in the Western Conference Finals.
Most teams who do not win the NBA Finals tend to make significant changes; even ones who claim the championship have swapped out significant pieces before, too. The Spurs made a move at shooting guard in the 2001 offseason to try to switch everything up, sending Derek Anderson, Steve Kerr and a 2003 second round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for Steve Smith.
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For the Spurs, they apparently wanted Anderson to take a six-year, $43 million contract extension, and even for David Robinson to take a pay cut to open room for the shooting guard, who was 26 at the time and averaged 15.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists (via UPI). Though, Anderson would not extend because only 25 percent of his salary was guaranteed in the contract’s final year.
Anderson also said, according to the San Antonio Express-News, via the previous UPI piece:
“I’m not going back to San Antonio,” Anderson said. “They told me I needed to decide because there were other guys they had to sign if I wasn’t coming back. I waited three weeks for them to negotiate with me, then all of a sudden they give me a deadline? That’s not right.”
This trade happened after Smith lost his starting spot with the Blazers for 46 games, featuring Bonzi Wells‘ rise to this spot. Portland also struggled to close the 2000-01 season and was swept out of the playoffs by the Lakers in the first round.
Smith even requested a contract extension from the Blazers but was rejected, according to USA Today. He followed with a trade request.
So, with Anderson as a free agent, the Spurs and Blazers worked out a sign-and-trade. He received six years, $48 million from Portland, Kerr joined him, and Smith went to San Antonio.
For the next two seasons, Smith played in 130 games for the Silver and Black, averaging 9.7 points 42.6 percent from three-point range. He became a role player for one of the first times in his career in the 2002-03 season, but became part of the squad that won the 2003 championship.
Kerr spent just one year in Portland before rejoining San Antonio for the final year of his career, which was the 2003 title.
Anderson spent three and a half seasons with the Blazers on a fresh contract, topping out at 13.9 points per game. His span with the team only resulted in a 40.2 percent shooting percentage, however, and bottomed out at 37.6 percent. Three three-point shooting remained in tact, but he bounced from the Houston Rockets to the Miami Heat to the Charlotte Hornets to end his career.