Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks had a horrible 2013-14 season.
After signing a four-year, $44 million extension last summer, Sanders injured his thumb during an altercation at a downtown Milwaukee nightclub in December and later missed the final 33 games because of a fractured orbital bone.
The final five games were technically to serve a suspension handed down from the NBA for marijuana use and Sanders made headlines by telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“I will deal with the consequences from it. It’s a banned substance in my league. But I believe in marijuana and the medical side of it. I know what it is if I’m going to use it.”
In between, he had a terrible season—averaging just 7.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots in the 23 games he did play, while shooting 46.9 percent from the floor.
All of those numbers were significantly down from his breakout 2012-13 campaign, when he was second in the league with 2.8 blocks per game and nearly averaged a double-double (9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds).
And now we know that Sanders got the lucrative deal after he punched a teammate during that 2012-13 season, the same one in which he nearly came to blows with Monta Ellis during the Bucks’ four-game first-round sweep at the hands of the eventual champion Miami Heat in the playoffs.
Gary Woelfel of The Journal Times told Sports Radio 1250:
“It’s one thing to make comments behind closed doors about guys if you’re a player. But when you physically hit them, that’s quite another thing. And everybody knows about the Monta Ellis incident.
“Earlier that same season—which didn’t go reported until I found out last season, if that makes sense—was that early in that season, he and Mike Dunleavy had a confrontation. Dunleavy was sitting in front of his stall. After a game, they were talking about sharing the ball blah blah and Sanders walks over and says ‘hellooo.’ Clocks him.”
Dunleavy, now with the Chicago Bulls, said last year that he was punched, but somehow no one really paid attention.
Sanders punched Dunleavy during 2012-13 season, according to report http://t.co/zMDMSJsV4a
— K L Chouinard (@AnaheimAmigos) June 9, 2014
Sanders got the big money, even though he was already showing lots of signs of behaving like a big baby.
He’s only 25 years old, so he has time to mature, and the hope in Milwaukee has to be that he comes to training camp with his head on straight, because with all four years and $44 million still due on the contract, which kicks in next season, he would have to be near the top of any list of untradeable assets in the NBA.
The bigger question, though, really has to be this: If general manager John Hammond knew about this and signed him for eight figures anyway, what does this say about the future of the franchise if the new ownership retains Hammond as the personnel boss?