Last year at this time, the general perception of Larry Sanders was a not a positive one. His tremendous potential as a player seemed to be far from making its way on to the floor. Multiple ejections, and an episode in a game against the Pacers in the previous season suggested he had some major character issues. Really, the only thing he had going for him was his defensive prowess. To sum it up, things were not looking great for Larry.
One year later, Sanders is a coveted piece of the Bucks franchise and is apparently close to receiving his first fat NBA contract. What a difference a year can make.
The Bucks and Sanders have recently engaged in contract extension negotiations, and according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the two parties are close to completing a multi-year deal. Sanders had a breakout 2o12-13 season, where he earned a starting role in the Bucks rotation and ranked second in the league in blocks per game. Sanders’ season earned him a spot in the USA Basketball U-25 mini-camp, where he competed with some of the NBA’s top young players. Larry’s growth the past 12 months has earned him wide recognition as the new face of the Bucks franchise.
Sanders’ agent, Dan Fegan, has been quite busy recently, as two of his other clients - John Wall and Demarcus Cousins (both members of the 2010 draft class along with Sanders) – have also been involved in similar extension negotiations. Last week, Wall signed a five-year, $80 million max-extension with the Wizards. Cousins has also engaged in max-deal talks with the Kings.
Luckily for the Bucks, it looks like keeping Sanders in Milwaukee will cost less than the max. Stein reports that Sanders is “expected to receive an extension with an annual salary in excess of $10 million.” Those numbers are similar to what the Bucks offered Brandon Jennings last fall, when he declined a 4-year, $4o million extension offer.
A deal for around $10 million a year may seem like a lot for a player who averaged 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 27 minutes a game last season. But the positive energy and attitude Sanders brings to the table along with his enormous defensive presence make those figures look more than reasonable.
Larry Sanders is undeniably a cornerstone of the Bucks’ future. It’s certainly pleasing to see that John Hammond is committed to keeping young talent around, especially with all the youth Milwaukee acquired this off-season.