The New Jersey Nets, flush with salary-cap space in the summer of 2012, have identified Orlando Magic power forward Ryan Anderson as one of the players they'll target, reports Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. As Anderson will be a restricted free agent, the Magic reserve the right to match any offer another team extends to him, and thus automatically retain him for the terms of the offer sheet he signed elsewhere.
Perhaps the Nets regret trading Anderson to Orlando following his rookie season. The 21st pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Anderson came to Orlando along with Vince Carter in a blockbuster trade after the Magic's failed run to the NBA Finals in 2009. Orlando sent Courtney Lee, as well as the expiring contracts of Rafer Alston and Tony Battie, to the Nets in exchange for Anderson and Carter.
Anderson has blossomed into Orlando's second-best player in 2011/12, his first season as a full-time starter, averaging 16 points and 7.9 boards in 31.4 minutes. The former California Golden Bear leads the league in three-pointers made and attempted, and is connecting on 41.1 percent of his 6.8 triple-tries per game. In his one season with the Nets, Anderson made 66 appearances (30 starts) and averaged 7.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
New Jersey had hoped to use its cap space to sign Magic center Dwight Howard in 2012, but Howard's surprising decision to delay his free agency until 2013 forced the Nets to change their strategy. They'll look to upgrade their roster and convince All-Star point guard Deron Williams not to leave as a free agent.
In the last three offseasons, Orlando has matched two offer sheets other teams extended to its players. In 2009, it retained reserve center Marcin Gortat by matching the Dallas Mavericks' offer of the full mid-level exception. One year later, it matched the Chicago Bulls' front-loaded offer sheet for backup shooting guard J.J. Redick. Neither of those players signed offers as rich as the one Anderson is likely to find in 2012, however.