Larry Sanders: Is He Worth the Risk?


The Dallas Mavericks are poised to acquire Amar’e Stoudemire once he officially clears waivers today, but with Jermaine O’Neal pressing pause on his comeback attempt the Mavericks could still use another big man to back up Tyson Chandler. We’ve chronicled all the possibilities, from Emeka Okafor to Andray Blatche, but there’s another option as well.

Larry Sanders.

The 26-year old center is close to reaching a buyout agreement with the Milwaukee Bucks, one in which he’ll receive $13 million of the $40 million he’s still owed. Currently the Mavericks are doing their due diligence, and are at least cautiously interested. But is he worth acquiring?

This one’s tricky. The Mavericks obviously have a need, and Sanders has quite a bit of talent, as evidenced by the lucrative extension he signed back in August of 2013. He averaged 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks in 55 games for Milwaukee in the 2012-13 season while posting a defensive rating of 99.

Pretty stout numbers. Numbers that convinced Milwaukee to sign him long term.

Unfortunately for the Bucks, Sanders hasn’t been the same since. A big reason for that stems from his off-court decision-making. There was the nightclub incident in which Sanders injured his thumb, the citations for animal cruelty, and the repeated drug use.

There were also rumors that Sanders no longer wanted to play basketball, and he was on personal leave before reaching the buyout agreement.

That’s a lot of baggage. Especially for a team looking to contend for a title. Disrupting the chemistry of the team could prove to be detrimental to Dallas’ big-picture goal. Surely the Mavericks’ front office has discussed Sanders with Monta Ellis. The Mavericks’ leading scorer spent time with Sanders in Milwaukee, and let’s just say things didn’t end amicably. Perhaps Rick Carlisle could give a certain ex-point guard a call for some insight on Sanders as well.

So does his talent and Dallas’ need for frontcourt help outweigh the potential consequences? It’s hard to say. It’s possible linking up with a veteran-laden roster led by a proven head coach would work wonders for Sanders and his maturity. It’s possible that being in a position to contend for a championship could help him get his head on straight. And it’s possible that his time away from the game has helped him regain his focus and motivation.

It’s also possible that he’s Andrew Bynum 2.0, content to let his talent go to waste as long as he’s cashing checks.

Now, it’s still unclear when he could play, or what it would cost. And, despite the concerns, there will likely be plenty of suitors for his services. It’s hard to say just how plausible it is that Sanders ends up in Dallas. But if he’s willing to sign for cheap, the Mavericks almost have to bite. He can have a shot at redemption, and if it doesn’t work out they can send him away a la Lamar Odom.

Stay tuned. If a move is made it should be in the very near future.

Next: Mavs Cut Ties With Ledo to Make Room for Amar'e

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