Feb 7, 2014, 11:06 AM EDT
Last season Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders was a breakout player, his shot blocking and defensive presence in the paint was one of the reasons the Bucks were good enough to make the playoffs, plus he scored an efficient 9.5 points a game. That earned him a four-year, $44 million contract extension as the Bucks saw him as one of their cornerstones to rebuild around.
This season has been a disaster. It started with him injuring his thumb in a bar fight, needing surgery to fix that thumb and missing a lot of time. He’s argued with teammates. On the court for a 9-40 Bucks team he just has not been the same player, his true shooting percentage dropping from near the league average last year to 48 percent this season (league average this season is around 53 percent).
But no, that doesn’t mean the Bucks are trading him for pennies on the dollar, not to Dallas (where these rumors started) or anywhere else, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.
Sources briefed on the situation told ESPN.com that teams asking whether the defensive specialist has fallen far enough out of favor with his frustrated bosses to be made available are being turned away….
Reason being: Milwaukee is said to be fearful that trading Sanders so soon, when his value has taken so many hits in the wake of that October nightclub fight and the Bucks’ subsequent nosedive to a league-worst record of 9-40, makes it tough to get something resembling a fair return.
Sanders has made a lot of mistakes this season, but they are once he can certainly bounce back from. Next season he could be his old self again, and with that a guy that the Bucks want to keep as a defensive anchor inside, a guy who is an efficient scorer, a guy that paired with John Henson could be the future front line of this team. Do that and he’s a guy that other teams may covet but will bring decent trade offers for.
It remains possible the Bucks move Sanders before the deadline, but they aren’t going to trade a 25 year old after one rough season.