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.”