James Anderson was called into the Spurs front office late last week and given an inevitable warning.
With Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonard nearing their return from injuries, Anderson's second stint in San Antonio was likely coming to an end.
Coach Gregg Popovich and his no-nonsense organization weren't sugarcoating anything.
They told Anderson he'd likely be cut within the next week. And they followed through on Thursday afternoon, releasing the former Oklahoma State star back into NBA unemployment.
So Anderson already knew of his impending status Monday night, when he chipped in seven points, two rebounds and two steals during 16 productive minutes against the Thunder.
But it didn't bother him. The 23-year-old has gotten used to it. He's been in constant limbo for much of his rocky three-year career.
“I definitely think he has a future on an NBA team,” Popovich said hours before Monday's tip, speaking as if he'd already cut Anderson, even though he would give him crunch time minutes later that night.
“He's a hardworking kid. He comes early and stays late, aggressive and physical. Just hasn't found a place yet, and sometimes that happens with players.”
In this league, with limited roster spots and plenty of competing talent, that's an all-too-common story.
Unless you're an elite talent, it often comes down to the right fit and the lucky break. Anderson hasn't had either.
Early in his rookie season, it looked like he'd found an immediate home.
Anderson was getting 20 minutes a game as the seventh man on an eventual 61-21 Spurs team. He hit at least one 3-pointer in his first six career games, the only rookie from the 2009 class to do so.
But then Anderson suffered a stress fracture in his right foot, an injury that altered the trajectory of his career.
Gary Neal, Danny Green and a few other youngsters thrived in Anderson's absence. So when he returned, playing time was sparse.
And with his minutes dwindling, so did his confidence. A volume shooter who fed off extended run was now lucky to get one five-minute spurt from night to night.
He was let go by the Spurs after the 2011 playoffs and eventually invited to the Atlanta Hawks training camp. But he didn't shoot well in preseason, still mired in a mental slump, and was cut.
An eventual D-League assignment seemed like a disappointment, but may have been a blessing. Anderson played well and earned a second tenure with the Spurs when injuries struck their small forwards.
“It helped going back to the D-League, getting some confidence back, getting my mojo back,” Anderson said. “I think I got some good run and got my rhythm back.”
He says his health is no longer a concern. And his on-court confidence is getting there. But as of Thursday, he's not on an NBA roster, an obvious disappointment three years into a once-promising but now stalled career.
But at only 23, there's plenty of time to get it back on track, something he believes he's doing, despite Thursday's news.
“The game I played at Oklahoma State, I feel like I got away from it a little bit,” Anderson admitted. “I'm just trying to find it, felt better this time around, back to my old self. I have to continue to become a better player, continue to grow. In the end, it'll all pay off. Sooner or later I'll have an opportunity.”