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Bucks’ Larry Sanders not thrilled with reduced role under coach Drew

Nov 4, 2013, 1:09 PM EDT

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This summer the Milwaukee Bucks opened up their checkbooks to make Larry Sanders a franchise cornerstone — a four-year, $44 million contract extension. He’s a budding young defensive big man, a guy who can protect the rim or guard in space on the pick-and-roll.

But he’s finding it hard to do that from the bench this season.

New Bucks coach Larry Drew is playing Sanders about 17 minutes a night so far and Zaza Pachulia about 26. Drew and Pachulia go back to Atlanta and so he knows the offense and is more fluid than Sanders, who is struggling some in the new system. Sill, you know this minute distribution is not what the Bucks front office had in mind.

Sanders is none to thrilled about the demotion either, particularly that he is on the bench with the game on the line at the end, he told Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.

“I feel like I’m capable of being in the game at the end and helping my team win, coming up with blocks and rebounds,” Sanders told NBA.com before exiting the locker room swiftly. “I haven’t been able to get my rhythm out there. I understand foul trouble situations, but tonight I wasn’t in foul trouble.

“Last year I finished so many games. I feel like that’s when I lock in the most. But I haven’t been able to get in the game to finish. That carries over to the next game. When you sit the last three quarters of each game, I can’t have no carryover. And it’s hard for me. I’m still a young player. It’s only my eighth year playing basketball.”

Drew is clearly going for “win now” over “build for the future.” As noted by our own D.J. Foster this morning in the Extra Pass, Drew also is playing Gary Neal more minutes (27) than Ersan Ilyasova (22), and Krhis Middleton is very close in run to John Henson.

If you’re the Bucks and the picture is really the long term, aren’t you playing the youngsters and letting them learn on the fly, even if it costs you a little now? Honestly, what is the point to heavy Pachulia minutes? “Maybe we can be the 7 or 8 seed and get smoked in the first round if we play these veterans more.” Is that really the smart long-term strategy?

It’s just a week, we’ll see how things shake out, but things could get interesting in Milwaukee.

  1. cbking05 - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    This is the theme to Larry’s show
    The opening theme to Larry’s show
    Larry called me up one day and asked if I would write his theme song
    I’m almost half way finished, how do you like it so far
    How do you like the theme to the Larry Sander’s Show …

  2. JHathwell - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    well done, even if about 8% of the people reading this will actually get the joke.

    • davidly - Nov 4, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      And there’ll be a few percent who’ll think they get it but don’t really.

      • JHathwell - Nov 4, 2013 at 5:39 PM

        I was almost in that group. Had to sing the song to myself for a bit for I went, “heyyyy, wait a minute”.

  3. sdemp - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    You can’t play with 7 fouls. . . stop hacking and maybe your minutes will increase. Or stop sucking.

    • bougin89 - Nov 4, 2013 at 3:18 PM

      He had 5 fouls against the Knicks. He has 4 fouls in the last two games(2 each game). But sure…

  4. antistratfordian - Nov 4, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    “I haven’t been able to get my rhythm out there.”
    “But I haven’t been able to get in the game to finish. That carries over to the next game.”
    ” It’s only my eighth year playing basketball.”

    He came up with 3-4 excuses in just a few sentences. Mr. Sanders needs to learn how to let go of the things he cannot control. Just bust your tail off every time your number is called and the universe will have your back. But don’t jock-block the cosmos by whining in the press.

  5. brutl - Nov 4, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    It’s amazing he’s only been playing for 8 years total! I didn’t know that. Goes to show you how far size and athleticism will take you in basketball.

  6. kevjones75 - Nov 5, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    I like Larry Sanders, but he has looked dreadful out there so far.

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