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During the lockout Cavaliers guard Derek Anderson and Celtics forward Ron Mercer played small parts in a movie called No Tomorrow. This bullet-riddled action flick, starring rap artist Master P (who also happens to be Anderson's and Mercer's agent), Gary Busey and Pam Greer, is about a group of evil Russians who try to blow up the world. "I play one of Master P's bodyguards," says Anderson. "It's great. Mercer gets [killed] in the first five minutes!"
Anderson might not want to show No Tomorrow on Cleveland's next charter flight. For one reason, the screenwriter's choice of bad guys might hit too close to home for centers Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a citizen of Lithuania, and Vitaly Potapenko, who's from Ukraine. For another, the Cavs don't want to see Anderson settling for any more supporting parts.
He played that role last year to rave reviews. A 6'5" penetrator with dazzling open-court skills, Anderson averaged 11.7 points as a rookie backup to both point guard Brevin Knight and shooting guard Wesley Person, helping die surprising Cavs roll to a playoff berth. But in a first-round series against Indiana, none of the Cavs, except Ilgauskas and power forward Shawn Kemp, could find the basket, and Cleveland was bumped off in four games.
With little salary-cap room, team president Wayne Embry and coach Mike Fratello couldn't land a marquee free agent to lighten Kemp's scoring load. (The best they could do was 35-year-old journeyman small forward Johnny Newman.) The Cavaliers are hoping for more production from the agile Ilgauskas, who has a Rik Smits-like touch from outside, and from 6'7" forward Cedric Henderson, a slasher who can knock down the short jumper. Anderson's emergence is more crucial. Unless he scores 15 to 20 points consistently, the Cavs won't have enough ammo to make a playoff run. "Derek's versatile and athletic," Fratello says. "He can get you 18 points a night."
Anderson realizes this is his chance to shine. He worked hard on his jumper over the summer, vowing to improve on his 40.8% shooting, and he has his eye on Person's starting job. "We need another go-to guy besides Shawn," Anderson says. "I'm ready to assert myself."
Anderson already has many of the trappings of an NBA star. In addition to his budding movie career, he has appeared in two Master P music videos (Thug Girl and I'm a Soldier) and has his own line of black sneakers (Da Soldier). He also has a tattoo with his nickname (DA PROSECUTER) on his right biceps. But he insists his first priority is basketball. "The movies and rap can wait," he says. "This is my job now."
Good thing. Because if Anderson isn't ready to pull the trigger, the Cavs will have less chance of world domination than those evil Russians.
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